My jaw dropped when I read this story this morning waiting for my second no-show appointment of the day (and it’s only 9:30am). Fox News reports that 22,000 vets have called a suicide hotline that has been established. That’s bad, but what really got to me…
The hot line receives up to 250 calls per day — double the average number calling when it began. Kemp said callers are divided evenly between veterans from the Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars. Richard McKeon, public health adviser for SAMHSA, said 10 to 20 of the 1,575 calls received each week have to be rerouted to high-volume backup call centers throughout the country.
The VA estimates that every year 6,500 veterans take their own lives. The mental health director for the VA, Ira Katz, said in an e-mail last December that of the 18 veterans who commit suicide each day, four to five of them are under VA care, and 12,000 veterans under VA care are attempting suicide each year (emphasis mine).
I’m sure there are a number of reasons for this with the number one reason being – war is hell. I also wonder how many of these vets are from the Vietnam era who came home to an icy reception? I wonder as well how many have felt dismay, if they are Iraq War vets over the press coverage they have received?
I guess we could point fingers all day, but it is clear that these men and women clearly need our support and help. These folks fought for our freedom and way of life. It’s the least we can do to make sure they are taken care of when they come home, received well, and shown love and support.
I think I’m going to check out volunteer opportunities at my local V.A., and see how I can get my church involved as well. I encourage you to do the same.