Suicide Rates Double for Male US War Veterans

This video from the USA shows the February 19th, 2007 edition of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, a report aired documenting the problems at Walter Reed Medical Center.

It’s shameful to see the lack of respect and help that Iraq war veterans are receiving.

From ScienceBlog:

Suicide Rates Double for Male Veterans

Male veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide as their civilian counterparts, according to a recent study by health researchers at Portland State University and Oregon Health & Science University.

The findings are published in the July issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

“We clearly demonstrated that independent of when they served in the military, veterans were all equally at risk for suicide.

What’s more, we showed that veterans were at a greater risk of dying of suicide when compared to the non-veteran population,” said Mark Kaplan, lead author and professor in the School of Community Health at Portland State University.

“Impaired functional status or disability also appeared to increase the risk of suicide mortality among male veterans.”

Unlike previous research that focused on suicidal behavior among Vietnam-era veterans, and relied almost exclusively on clinical populations, this study evaluated a sample from the general population.

The researchers used a large nationally representative data set from 104,026 veterans.

“It is important to study the risk factors for suicide among veterans especially with the returning service members from Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Bentson McFarland, M.D., co-author and professor of psychiatry, public health and preventive medicine at OHSU School of Medicine.

“Health care providers and family members need to be aware of the fact that veterans are at an increased risk for suicide.” …

Veterans are 58 percent more likely to be use firearms to commit suicide than nonveterans.

Talking about veterans and health, from Associated Press:

Former [US] Marines convinced that contaminated water sickened their families at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune are demanding that Congress intervene in their dispute even as the military considers their claims for compensation.

At least 850 former residents of the base have filed administrative claims, seeking nearly $4 billion, for exposure to the industrial solvents TCE and PCE that contaminated Camp Lejeune’s drinking wells before 1987.

They blame their cancers and other illnesses on tainted tap water at the sprawling training and deployment base.

Veterans’ problems in Britain: here.

17 thoughts on “Suicide Rates Double for Male US War Veterans

  1. Surviving War, Slowly Dying at Home
    Posted by: “Compañero” chocoano05
    Fri Jun 15, 2007 6:11 am (PST)
    Published on Wednesday, June 13, 2007 by Inter Press Service
    Surviving War, Slowly Dying at Home by Aaron Glantz

    LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Vets Westside Residence Hall is a hulking
    eight-story structure a few blocks from Los Angeles International
    Airport. It’s the largest transitional housing and employment centre
    for homeless veterans in the country, hosting 700 veterans annually.

    Michael Hall is one of its residents. The 31-year-old Army staff
    sergeant enlisted shortly after high school and served as a heavy
    equipment mechanic and technical weapons specialist in Bosnia, Cuba,
    Kuwait and Afghanistan before being severely injured in Iraq in 2003.

    “I was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade,” Hall told IPS as he limped
    into a recreation room on the building’s ground floor. “I suffer from
    compression of the spine. I used to be six foot four. Now I’m six two
    and a half.”

    “I got knocked through a wall,” he added, almost as an afterthought.

    The federal government’s Veterans Administration considers Hall to be
    100 percent disabled. He has difficulty walking, dragging his feet
    with each step he takes. He also suffers from mental problems –
    bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder -conditions he
    didn’t have before he went to Iraq.

    Hall said his problems really started when he got back to the United
    States and started using methamphetamines to dull the pain.

    “I knew a lot of people who were killed in Iraq,” he said, “so the
    pain of losing loved ones on the battlefield, the pain of not being
    there for my children, of not knowing how to live in this civilian
    society after so many years in the military – I stuffed these things
    down deep inside because I considered myself a hard-core guy. But
    after the effects of the methamphetamine went away, I still felt the
    same. No matter how much I could do or how much I could smoke the
    results were the same. It was the insanity of it all.”

    Hall has four children, ages seven, four, two, and one. But his
    behaviour since being released from the military has kept him away
    from them. In addition to using drugs, he started dealing as well.
    Since leaving the military in 2003, he has served time in federal
    prison in Oklahoma for felony home invasion and has had numerous
    other run-ins with the law. Within three years, he hit rock bottom –
    one of 27,000 homeless vets on the streets of Los Angeles.

    Dwight Radcliff is chief operating officer of U.S. Vets, a public-
    private partnership founded in 1993 to serve homeless veterans. He
    told IPS his organisation is increasingly coming into contact with
    relatively young homeless veterans involved in custody disputes over
    their children.

    “It’s a sign of the times,” he said. “It’s a lot freer now than even
    in the 1970s. So it’s not surprising to see a veteran who is 23 years
    old who has children, who cannot get along with the custodial parent
    who needs support and help to navigate that system.”

    Radcliff added that the presence of those children can also be a
    motivator to get the veteran off the streets and clean from drugs.
    For example, U.S. Vets helped former Staff Sergeant Michael Hall win
    custody of his children after he got off methamphetamine. The
    children are currently living with Hall’s parents until he finds a
    permanent place to live.

    “These are guys who are pretty much going straight from deployment to
    the streets,” added Rachel Feldstein, associate director of New
    Directions, a residential care centre for homeless veterans inside
    the VA complex in West Los Angeles. She says veterans of the Iraq war
    are becoming homeless much more quickly than Vietnam vets.

    While about half of the estimated 400,000 homeless veterans served
    during the Vietnam years, Feldstein said most did not usually become
    homeless until nine to 12 years after their discharge.

    Already, she said, Iraq war vets are living on the streets of Los
    Angeles, getting seriously addicted to drugs and falling into
    criminal behaviour, she said.

    Firm estimates of the number of homeless Iraq war veterans are hard
    to come by. In June 2005, the National Coalition for Homeless
    Veterans reported the number of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring
    Freedom (Afghanistan) veterans seeking assistance from community-
    based homeless services providers had exceeded 400.

    The group Veterans for America, formerly the Vietnam Veterans of
    America Foundation, estimates that 10,000 veterans of Iraq and
    Afghanistan are now living on the street.

    Sixteen Iraq war veterans have entered residential drug rehab at New
    Directions over the last four years. Most have been referred to the
    programme as an alternative sentence after being convicted of a crime.

    “What’s unique about the men and women coming back from Iraq and
    Afghanistan is that they’re not able to integrate with their family,”
    Feldstein said. “They’ve seen horrible things. They’ve been in
    horrible places and their family can’t relate. And so you become
    homeless in the last place you lived.”

    Activists concerned about increases in the number of homeless
    veterans argue for greater federal investment in affordable housing
    and social services. Of particular concern is the wait for mental
    health care, which can run as long as six months.

    A recent study by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government found that
    by the time the Iraq and Afghanistan wars end, there will be at least
    two and a half million vets. Because of that, the Harvard study
    concluded, Congress will have to double the VA’s budget simply to
    avoid cutting services.


  2. Lead author of the Oregon research, the number of vets who commit suicide nation wide is much larger than reported in previous studies, since most were based on data provided by the VA. One thing we found is that three-quarters of veterans are not served by the VA. So a huge portion of the vet population was previously ignored.

    oregon drug rehab


  3. [This comment restored here from the Blogsome Spaminator]

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