PHIL IN THE BLANK: Stop the loss

Over the last few years I’ve been concerned with the rate of suicide amongst veterans, about 20 per day from what I’ve heard most say.
This Veterans Day, I decided to look it up with the most official source I could think of, the Veterans Administration. Their statistics listed 6,139 veteran suicides nationwide in 2017. This is about 17 per day, which is still much too high.
The highest rate, 44.5/100,000, was found to be amongst the younger veterans, ages 18-34. This rate is even higher for the state of Michigan, at 64.3/100,000.
These rates are much higher than the population as a whole for this age group, which is about 17/100,000 for Michigan as well as nationwide. The general population’s 18-34 age group is also not the highest amongst the general age groups. That would be my group, the 35-54 group, at about 19.1.
My age group as a veteran has the second highest rate for vets, at 35.1 nationwide and 31.8 in Michigan.
The oldest veterans age groups have the lowest rates, 26.6 in Michigan and 27.1 national for 55-74, and 20.3 in Michigan and 27.9 nationwide for 75-plus.
Many veterans groups in government, VFW, American Legion, etc. are looking into why and what to do about it, but for me it’s enough to say the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been rough.
It wasn’t long ago when troops were getting killed every day, fighting over the same city, village, or mountain over and over, taking them and giving them back as politics shifted one way or another. Or by IED just about anywhere else. All that as life continued as normal for most everyone staying behind.
I remember how difficult that part was for me back in late 1990, like being on guard duty at night in the motor pool, knowing my friends were going to class, watching television, eating out, or otherwise just going about their day.
I don’t know how to fix what vets are going through now. My hope is they talk to someone, their pastor, counselor, fellow veterans at a support group or local VFW or American Legion hall, friends, family. Thank veterans for their service. Hopefully they appreciate it. I know I do.
The national veterans suicide prevention lifeline is 800-273-8255.

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