I remember the earliest days of the internet. In those days, if you didn’t phrase your search terms just right, you couldn’t find anything worthwhile.
Things haven’t changed all that much.
When I started this blog for Memorial Day, I asked Google, “Are we still losing 22 veterans a day?” Google very quickly informed me that Beyonce lost 15 pounds on her 22-day diet. When did our priorities rank weight loss or celebrities above suicide?
Digging around I found a variety of articles – some of them affirm 22 a day continues and some of which dispute that the methodology used in attaining those numbers is precise.
Suffice to say, one would be too many, but the numbers remain staggeringly high.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ most recent report, veterans are 20 percent more likely to complete suicide than non-veterans. It’s especially disturbing to note that the suicide rate for female veterans is 250 percent that for female non-vets.
Rates of suicide are highest in veterans age 18-29 and amongst those who served in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn.
I marvel at those names. We seem to be interested in freeing a lot of folks, unless they’re veterans who live in the hell of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, alcoholism or addiction to opioids (all of which remain at staggeringly high rates and a high percentage of vets live with both PTSD and addictions).
Memorial Day is for honoring those who died in active military service. That we allow veterans to die by the thousands every year from the results of war after coming home is unconscionable.
Memorial Day and every day, I thank all veterans for their service. I also ask that all who care about them demand that our government provide immediate access to the very best medical and psychiatric care available.
As Mother Jones said, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”