Drug Abuse And Mental Illness On The Rise Among Vets, New Report Finds

news
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Christine Cabalo

Editor's Note: This article by Amy Bushatz originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.


The number of Department of Veterans Affairs patients with diagnosed mental health or substance abuse issues increased between 2001 and 2014, according to a report on veteran suicide newly released by the VA.

Between 2001 and 2014, the rate of mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders climbed from 27 percent to 40 percent, the Aug. 3 report states.

Data on mental health and substance abuse were examined as part of the study, officials wrote, because those diseases are connected with a higher risk of suicide. But the study also found that the suicide rate among VA patients with those disorders decreased from 77.6 per 100,000 to 57 between 2001 and 2014 despite that correlation.

The report, the most comprehensive study yet on veteran suicide, is based on a review of Defense Department records, records from each state and data from the Centers for Disease Control, VA officials said. Highlights from the report were released in early July.

Related: 20 Veterans Died By Suicide A Day In 2014 »

"The effort advances VA's knowledge from the previous report in 2012, which was primarily limited to information on Veterans who used [Veterans Health Administration] health services or from mortality records obtained directly from 20 states and approximately 3 million records," VA officials said in a release.

Among early released findings was the conclusion that an average of 20 veterans take their lives each day, and that 65 percent of all veterans who committed suicide in 2014 were over age 50.

Veterans, the report says, accounted for 18 percent of all suicide deaths among U.S. adults, down from 22 percent in 2010. The risk of suicide is 21 percent greater for veterans than for the U.S. civilian population, it says.

Among a laundry list of actions the VA says it is taking to address the veteran suicide issue are expanding the Veterans Crisis Line, "predictive modeling" to determine which veterans are most at risk for suicide and "ensuring same-day access for Veterans with urgent mental health needs at over 1,000 points of care by the end of calendar year 2016," it said in a release.

The full report can be found here.

More from Military.com:

Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers board an aircraft to begin the first leg of their deployment in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. (Georgia National Guard/Maj. William Carraway)

Editor's Note: This article by Patricia Kime originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

A new bill would give troops with infertility related to their military service greater access to advanced reproductive treatments, including up to three completed cycles of in vitro fertilization, or IVF, and cryopreservation of eggs and sperm for those heading to a combat zone.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, the commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, speaks to Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) during a visit aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Marines and Sailors with the 11th MEU are conducting routine operations as part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group in the eastern Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck)

The Marine Corps' top general on the west coast is readying his Marines for the next big war against a near peer competitor, and one of his main concerns is figuring out how to alter the mindset of troops that have been fighting insurgencies since 9/11.

"If anything my problem is getting people out of the mindset of [counterterrorism] and making sure they're thinking about near peer adversaries in their training programs," Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, California, told Task & Purpose in an interview on Friday.

Read More Show Less
A Ruger AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, center, the same model, though in gray rather than black, used by the shooter in a Texas church massacre two days earlier, sits on display with other rifles on a wall in a gun shop Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Lynnwood, Wash. (Associated Press/Elaine Thompson)

A new bill introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives would require a significant number of state residents own "at least one" AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with the help of a hefty tax break — except it won't ever get off the ground.

Read More Show Less
The casket carrying the remains of Scott Wirtz, a civilian employee of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency killed along with three members of the U.S. military during a recent attack in Syria, sits in a military vehicle during a dignified transfer ceremony as they are returned to the United States at Dover Air Force Base, in Dover, Delaware, U.S., January 19, 2019. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.-backed forces have captured ISIS fighters tied to a January suicide bombing in Syria that killed four Americans, U.S. officials say, generating concrete leads for Washington about the deadliest attack to date there against U.S. personnel.

Read More Show Less

Chaos is returning to Stanford.

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis is joining Stanford University's Hoover Institution in California as of May 1, a university news release says.

Read More Show Less