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Jordan Candler / Jul. 8, 2016

Our Veterans Deserve Better

America loses 20 military heroes to suicide every day.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2008 suicide has sequentially rounded off America’s “10 Leading Causes of Death.” The CDC’s latest chart shows 42,773 suicides were registered in 2014. With that in mind, consider this disconcerting report from The Wall Street Journal:

“Twenty military veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S., according to new statistics released Thursday by the Department of Veterans Affairs. … Veterans are 21% more likely to commit suicide than their civilian counterparts, according to the data, and in 2014 some 7,400 veterans took their own lives [emphasis added].”

In other words, veterans represented roughly 17% of the 42,773 suicides in 2014. Needless to say, that’s an alarmingly disproportionate figure. Interestingly, the Journal adds, “The data from the VA … shows that veterans who have signed up for VA benefits have drastically lower suicide rates than veterans who don’t use the VA. Some 75% of vet suicides are among those who don’t use the department’s services.”

That means the VA is working — at least for those who don’t end up on a wait list, a problem that, despite overhauls, doesn’t seem to be going away. Earlier this week Fox News reported, “Two years after a scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking health care, the Department of Veterans Affairs still has ‘profound deficiencies’ in delivering health care to millions of veterans, a congressional commission says in a new report.”

Veterans already are at high risk of committing self-inflicting harm. They shouldn’t be further burdened by a broken VA. Veterans and their counterparts active in the Armed Forces give so much to our great nation. We owe them whatever help they need.

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