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6 Dec, 2011

The Cost of War: 18 U.S. Military Veteran Suicides Per Day

Alexandria, VA (PRWEB) December 06, 2011 — Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health a decade of war has placed unprecedented demands and stressors on the nation’s warriors and their families that will challenge health systems serving the military for generations to come.

René Campos, MOAA Deputy Director of Government Relations, said the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) have long been faced with outsize medical and rehabilitation issues. She emphasized MOAA is particularly concerned about the exponentially growing need to address mental health, behavioral and cognitive conditions in light of rising rates of suicides, alcohol and substance abuse, and other emotional issues playing out after 10 years of war among veterans, service members and their families.

“The current statistics are disturbing and point to an even greater need to wage an all out battle to end suicide,” Campos stated. “What is required is a sustained national commitment at all levels of government to help veterans cope with the psychological and traumatic conditions that threaten their well-being and that of their families.

“Eighteen veterans commit suicide every day,” Campos continued. “That is one every 80 minutes. Twenty percent of all suicides in the U.S. are former service members.”

MOAA offers three specific recommendations to address current barriers to care:

  •     Establish a single strategy and suicide prevention office between VA and DOD reporting directly to Department Secretaries through the Senior Oversight Committee.
  •     Expand VA mental health capacity and capability to improve access and delivery of quality and timely care and information.
  •     Improve enrollment of all eligible veterans in VA health care, especially those in the Guard and Reserve, rural areas and high-risk populations by communicating better to reach them and help them understand how to use available services.

“MOAA believes the VA and DOD must improve how they work together to achieve recommended actions and reduce the shocking suicide statistics of those who have served our nation,” Campos concluded.

For more information, visit http://www.moaa.org