Government Failures Led To The Epidemic Of Veteran Suicide

Government Failures Led To The Epidemic Of Veteran Suicide

There are two articles here you do not want to read. But you must. They concern the unreported epidemic of veteran suicide and the moral bankruptcy of senseless wars.

In Unit Stalked by Suicide, Veterans Try to Save One Another

Unraverling a String of Veteran Marine Suicides, One by One

Both written by Dave Philipps published in the New York Times, neither piece makes the direct connection between veteran suicide and the moral bankruptcy of senseless wars. But, at bottom, that is precisely the point of Philipps’s writing in the context of the tragedies overwhelming Mideast war vets, the scandal of the bumbling VA bureaucracy and the shame of Government apathy.

“There is an oft-cited statistic that 22 veterans commit suicide every day. The number is jarring, but also pretty meaningless. Is 22 a lot or a little? How does it compare to the number of police officers or teachers or fishermen who kill themselves each day? I knew from previous reporting that most of the 22 veterans were just a function of demographics — the people most likely to commit suicide are old, white men. And that is exactly who the bulk of veterans are. Only two or three of the 22 vets who kill themselves each day fought as recently as in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Philipps told this to the sniper he was interviewing.

“Look,” the sniper replied, “all I know is, in my battalion there have been 12 suicides since we came back, and it appears to be getting worse.” (NY Times)

To his credit, Philipps does not hold back on the gut-wrenching details of death and trauma told to him in one-on-one interviews. Regardless of your own personal experience, these are tough reads. But this issue is too serious to suffer from the usual disclaimer: “The following may be upsetting.” They should be “upsetting”. It just may motivate citizens to remedial action.

“After surviving an ambush in Afghanistan where several Marines were injured, Mr. Gerard said, he was treated for PTSD by the Marine Corps. But when his enlistment ended in 2011, so did his therapy. He tried to continue at the V.A., but long delays meant it was two years (emphasis mine) before he got any treatment, and even then, he said, he found it ineffective.” (NY Times)

Interestingly, in the midst of the current GOP Presidential campaigning, Sgt. Jonathan Lubecky, Ret., U.S. Army shared a “compare and contrast” experience in a letter to

“I recall meeting Mr. Trump at The Citadel in South Carolina. I specifically wanted to talk with him for only a few minutes about Veterans issues. I was in Uniform. I did get a picture, and was then shuttled away. He could have cared less. 

Compare this with the first time I met Sen Rand Paul, also at the Citadel, also in uniform. I had been released from the VA Hospital two days prior and still had the bandages on my wrist from a suicide attempt due to the VA mis-managing my medication. After Sen. Rand Paul gave his speech I waited in line to speak with him, again about problems facing Veterans. Sen. Paul noticed my bandages and asked what had happened. I told him. He then postponed a press conference for 20 minutes and walked me behind a curtain with his staffer to talk with me. He said to me, “Forget I am a Senator, I am also a doctor.” He was concerned not only as a Senator and Doctor, but as a human being about what had happened, and what caused my attempt. 
Before leaving, I gave him an idea for legislation to help Veterans. Two weeks later, he introduced my idea to the Senate as an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. Sen. Paul also had his staffer give me his personal cell number for me to call if I ever needed anything, or felt the way I did before I was hospitalized.” 

Sen Paul emphasized both the tragedy and urgency reflected in his legislation born of his meeting with Sgt. Lubecky (above). In a speech sponsored by Concerned Veterans of America to a packed house of vets inside a Shriner’s hall, Paul said:

“Is it really something we want to do to put a million American soldiers back there?…When people say we should put boots on the ground, I say, absolutely: The first boots on the ground need to be Arab boots on the ground…Why don’t we quit sending foreign aid to people that hate us?…Why don’t we quit sending foreign aid to countries that burn our flag and say ‘Death to America!’ Some people don’t get it, including a senator from your state who loves foreign aid to every country. He says he’s projecting power around the world. You don’t project power from bankruptcy court.” (WaPo)

Obviously, Sen. Paul was speaking of financial “bankruptcy court”. He just as easily could have been referring to a different bankruptcy of a federal government full of “elected leaders” dedicated to the sustained growth of the Welfare/Warfare State which kills, maims and destroys the lives of young Americans and their loved ones, providing a horrendous, unnecessary venue for this epidemic of veteran suicide and the moral bankruptcy of senseless wars. How does this defend the Liberty and the Constitution? Post your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

(Photo courtesy of MarineCorps NewYork, Flickr CC BY 2.0)



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