• Cole Lyle

Opinion: 17 veterans die by suicide every day; we should start talking about it

Updated: Apr 13


This OPED was originally featured in the Austin American - Statesman

https://www.statesman.com/story/opinion/2022/04/07/opinion-17-veterans-die-suicide-every-day-we-should-talk/9476060002/


Every day, 17 veterans take their lives across the United States, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a rate 1.5 times higher than the civilian population.


In my home state of Texas, Mission Roll Call’s own polling shows cause for hope and concern — even while 77% of Texas veterans are happy with their local VA’s approach to suicide prevention, the suicide rate significantly exceeds the national average.


Most veterans reintegrate without issue, but many return from deployment with a mental health diagnosis that makes reintegration difficult.


I should know. After my deployment to Afghanistan, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and tried pills and counseling. But like so many veterans, the pills only made things worse. One night in 2014, I came dangerously close to becoming a statistic. Since that time, it’s been my life’s mission to help other veterans overcome similar struggles.


The VA plays a central role in this fight. It was created for the sole purpose of serving veterans and has a better understanding of unique issues veterans deal with, like prosthetics and mental health. But not every VA hospital’s efforts to support at-risk veterans are succeeding. When the issue in question is veteran suicide, failure has deadly consequences.


While the VA in states like Texas may enjoy a lot of popular support, they still struggle to bring the veteran suicide rate down. In other states, the VA is doing even worse. Take California, for example. Despite making up just 4% of the state’s population, veterans accounted for 11% of suicides.


The VA plays a central role in this fight. It was created for the sole purpose of serving veterans and has a better understanding of unique issues veterans deal with, like prosthetics and mental health. But not every VA hospital’s efforts to support at-risk veterans are succeeding. When the issue in question is veteran suicide, failure has deadly consequences.


While the VA in states like Texas may enjoy a lot of popular support, they still struggle to bring the veteran suicide rate down. In other states, the VA is doing even worse. Take California, for example. Despite making up just 4% of the state’s population, veterans accounted for 11% of suicides.

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