Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in the military service of their country, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.
All too often in our remembrances, though, we leave out those who brought the scars of war home with them and are never able to overcome that struggle; the veterans and soldiers whom we lost because of a fight with addiction, depression, or any other ailment as a result of their service deserve to be honored and remembered on this day alongside those who fell on the battlefield. Those are the deaths we rarely hear about.
On Memorial Day, let us remember our heroes we lost overseas and at home
Returning veterans are leaving a culture in which they are trained for war, and in which every aspect of their daily lives is regulated, to return to a civilian society in which most people have not served and have no idea what the troops have experienced.
Studies show that many veterans are at increased risk for suicide, substance use disorders and homelessness. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:
Every day, approximately 20 veterans and active duty service members take their own lives
Veterans’ suicides account for 18% of the suicide deaths in the country, while only making up 8.5% of the adult population
Women veterans are at much greater risk, with their suicide rate 2.5 times higher than for female civilians
Veterans over the age of 50 account for 7 out of 10 suicides
Veterans have between four and 10 times the risk for PTSD symptoms than the general population in a given year
It is estimated that 10-12% of veterans suffer with major depression
As many as 22% of recent veterans suffer with symptoms of traumatic brain injury
Every veteran lost to suicide or an overdose needs to have the same impact for us as a country as when we lose a soldier overseas.
If you're a veteran having a tough time, or you know a veteran who is, there are people you can talk to who know what you've been through. PLEASE call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or text 838255 to get connected with a VA responder.
IT TAKES THE COURAGE & THE STRENGTH OF A WARRIOR TO ASK FOR HELP
Veterans and their loved ones also can visit www.maketheconnection.net to explore information on mental health issues and hear stories from Veterans who have faced challenges like theirs, including post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use problems, transitioning from service, and more.
To learn more about the issue of Veteran suicide as well as VA mental health resources, please visit www.mentalhealth.va.gov.
On this Memorial Day, let us also remember our veterans who have died from suicide, alcoholism, and addiction. Let us remember our brave men and women who have died from the battle wounds of PTSD and wounds concurrent with illnesses and symptoms such as depression, night terrors, insomnia, anxiety, alcoholism, addiction, self-violence, and violence towards others.