Fort Drum— Between Iraq and Afghanistan wars, there are more Veterans under the age of 25 years old now than ever before. A study conducted back in 2005 by Dr. Karen H. Seal and associates from University of San Francisco:
“One-fourth of more than 100,000 veterans returning home from Iraq or Afghanistan as of November 2005 were diagnosed as having a mental disorder, and most of them had two or three diagnoses.”
The study also found that the age group that are at higher risk of a mental health diagnosis are those from 18-24 years of age because they are- “more likely to be of lower rank and thus more likely to have greater combat exposure.”
In 2012 there were 120 suicides reported by the Army with 67 that are under investigation, suspecting suicide. A Times article “The War on Suicide” pointed out a shocking number of suicides since Afghanistan began:
“More U.S. military personnel have died by suicide since the war in Afghanistan began than have died fighting there. The rate jumped 80% from 2004 to 2008, and while it leveled off in 2010 and 2011, it has soared 18% this year.”
While soldiers are still killed in combat, the most recent 21 year-old Spc. Daniel L. Carison died in Kandahar province November 9th. Spc. Carison was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii. The biggest tragedy is when soldiers that want to live, die in combat. Left behind are grieving parents, spouses, families, children, parents. For soldiers who have survived, they have the opportunity to live. They hold within their grasp the gift of life, which is what so many mourning families of fallen soldiers wished they had.
The Army Vice Chief of Staff General Lloyd J. Austin III stressed his concern for the Army’s high suicide rate:
"Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army. And it's an enemy that's killing not just Soldiers, but tens of thousands of Americans every year. That said, I do believe suicide is preventable. To combat it effectively will require sophisticated solutions aimed at helping individuals to build resiliency and strengthen their life coping skills."
According to Army Starrs, those that were currently deployed had the highest rate of suicide rate, while suicide rates decreased after deployment. Those that are married have a lower rate of suicide.
The high rate of suicides amongst U.S. Military men and women has been at an all time high since 2001- post 9/11. There are awareness programs available and trainings within each branch of the service in hopes to prevent suicides. Although there are standard evaluations once soldiers return from war, there should be a stronger preventative plan in place. Perhaps, mandatory counseling and therapy for all soldiers returning from war, regardless of rank, should be required for all military branches.