There were 6000 or more veteran suicides per year from 2008 to 2017. Veterans consist of 13.5% of all deaths by suicide in US adults but only make up 7.9% of the US adult population.
US Veterans have long upheld the proud tradition of “Leave No Man Behind”. We, as Americans, need to stop leaving those who have served behind the second their feet touch American soil. It’s time we put our money where our mouths are when we say, “Thank you for your service!”
The current policy is not enough. We often forget to calculate the true cost of war, and tragically our veterans end up paying the price. Beyond the numbers for suicide, there are physical injuries and injuries that cannot be seen. Conditions like PTSD, anxiety and depression can lead to high rates of alcoholism and other substance abuse issues. The rates of homelessness, divorce and domestic violence are also higher than average for vets.
Ann Marie is working with an advisory board of mental health practitioners, abuse counselors and speaking to military personnel to draft a new bill she is calling Leave No One Behind which will provide exit programs for service members before they are discharged. We cannot expect soldiers who have come home in pain to find services on their own or insult their sacrifice by handing them a pamphlet. Our mission is to protect them as they have protected us.