Suicides among U.S. military still a big problem
BY World's Editorials Writers
Monday, January 07, 2013
1/07/13 at 7:16 AM
Suicides among veterans of war likely have been a problem for as long as there has been war. Such records, however, were not kept by the U.S. military. That has changed and, not surprisingly, the results are grim.
According to statistics released by the Department of Defense, more soldiers took their own lives than were killed in combat in 2012. The numbers for December have not yet been compiled, but through November, 177 active-duty soldiers committed suicide in 2012 while 176 were killed in action. The suicide rate in the Army alone has increased 54 percent since 2007.
It was for far too long an unspoken and, frankly, ignored problem within the U.S. military. Soldiers, sailors and Marines are reluctant to discuss the fact that they have a problem. Many fear that admitting to a mental problem is tantamount to being weak and could effect promotions.
Returning veterans and families of veterans are well aware of the suicide epidemic. Too many have had to stand by helplessly and watch former comrades in arms and loved ones succumb to the pressure of post traumatic stress disorder or any number of other mental and emotional problems. Until only a few years ago the Pentagon offered little help.
Now, the DOD has recognized the problem and has dedicated funds to try to help. Still, there are far too many veterans and active duty soldiers who need help in the form of counseling or medication who are slipping through the cracks.
Even when this war is finally, mercifully behind us, we will still have our veterans to take of. Some wounds are not visible. They are, however, just as serious and deserve the best care we can offer.
For those who protect us and our country we must bind up their wounds.
Original Print Headline: Hidden wounds
A family member holds a flag as he waits for members of the military to return from deployment in Afganistan. According to the Department of Defense, more soldiers commited suicide than were killed in combat in 2012. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World file