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Majority Of Veteran Suicides Are 50 And Older And We Don’t Know Why
On July 7, the Veterans Health Administration released new data about veterans’ suicides, based upon examination of over 55 million veteran records from 1979 to 2014 from every state in the nation and U.S. territories. While much of the buzz around veteran suicide has focused on veterans emerging out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this new report showed that 65% of all veterans who died from suicide in 2014 were 50 years of age or older. In fact, 45% of veteran suicides in 2014 were aged 60 and older.
These are deeply disturbing statistics, especially for those of us in the Vietnam cohort. As the executive director of the Veterans Health Council at Vietnam Veterans of America, veteran suicide is one of my professional and personal interests ever since losing a team member to suicide while on a mission together in northern I Corps Vietnam.
While the new data certainly evokes deep personal emotions for me, the reality of those numbers is that our Vietnam vets still constitute the great majority of veteran suicides. But we knew that six years ago from the VA’s 2010 suicide report where it showed that 73% of veteran suicides occurred in the cohort aged 50 and older, even with a smaller-sized sample of data from only 20 states. Why have so many of us been taking our lives?
Some say that it’s because Vietnam veterans are just getting older and suicides are increasing among older Americans. But they miss the fact that since 2001, even as U.S. adult civilian suicides have increased 23%, veteran suicides have risen 32% during the same period. So let’s not fool ourselves with an easy answer.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been expended by the VA, DoD, by private foundations, research institutions, universities and other agencies, all trying to gain insights into veteran suicide, but I know of none that focuses exclusively on our aging veterans. Why not? If we can’t discover the “why” for Vietnam veterans, how will America be able to help the younger generation?
After more than a decade of advocating on this issue, I hope the new VA data will direct more focus by everyone to the very serious problem of Vietnam veteran suicides. Until all Americans realize this and act upon it with a coordinated effort, there is absolutely no doubt that this country will remain in the midst of a public health crisis with veteran suicide.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.
A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.
Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.
So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.
R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.
Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.
The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.
These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.