From an update from Army Maj. D.J. Skelton: “Over 1,000 veterans (that have served a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan) have e-mailed me since Tom Ricks posted my FB article on his blog last Nov. stating that the only time they ever felt like committing suicide was from the stress of going through a medical board or the process of transition out of the military.”
Veterans who are married or in a live-in relationship have a higher risk of suicide than their single counterparts, according to a new study from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the University of Connecticut.
In May 2011, amid President Barack Obama’s troop surge, the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division began leaving Afghanistan after a grueling year-long tour. By the end of the summer, the entire division had returned home to Fort Campbell on the Tennessee-Kentucky border, greeted by a succession of parades and award ceremonies honoring the 101st’s sacrifice in some of Afghanistan’s most volatile regions, where a total of 131 Screaming Eagles lost their lives and many more were wounded. Chests were adorned with medals; families were reunited; alcohol flowed. It was a homecoming fit for a group of soldiers who had survived the storied division’s single bloodiest deployment since the Vietnam War.
When Dr. David Shulkin was appointed secretary of veterans affairs in February, President Donald Trump charged him with the ambitious mission of reducing the veteran suicide rate to zero. Which means that for Shulkin to truly succeed in his role as the head of an agency that on numerous occasions in recent years has been accused of fatally neglecting patients in its care, the VA will need to ensure that not a single living person who has ever served in the U.S. military dies by suicide on his watch. That’s more than 20 million people.