- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

San Antonio Express-News. Jan. 14, 2014.

Find root causes of vet suicides

There is genuine hope that once the complete numbers are tallied, the number of military suicides in 2013 will be lower than the high set in 2012 - 514 deaths.

If this occurs, it will likely be the result of proactive efforts in the military to get soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen to seek help when they need it.


There has been a genuine reluctance to seek that help because this is thought to carry with it a personal and professional stigma - a sense, perhaps, that asking for help is a sign of weakness.

No. Know that if you are an active-duty member, in Military City USA or anywhere, asking for the help to get better - for yourself, your family and your unit - is a sign of strength and resolve.

Kudos to the military branches for the efforts, though even 415 suicides - last year’s figure without final reporting from the Army and Marine Corps - is still much too high.

But also disconcerting are some figures reported for former members of the military. A nation’s duty to them does not go away just because they are no longer serving.

A recent Express-News article reported that one specific set of Veterans Affairs Department figures for 2011 had nearly doubled from 2009 - from 88 to 152. This was for suicides of male veterans 18 to 29 years old.

As the Express-News reported, this is a complex issue, in the military and out.

But we note what might be a disturbing corollary. This group of veterans who served post-9/11 also report a higher level of joblessness - 10 percent - than both civilians and other groups of veterans.

This, of course, could be a chicken-or-the-egg question. Is that relatively recent veteran jobless because of issues that might include thoughts of suicide, or is unemployment - making personal and family responsibilities hard or harder to meet - the cause of those thoughts?

Moreover, disability rates are higher for veterans, and this, too, could be a significant factor.

But a caring nation would make sure that joblessness as a factor would be removed as much as is possible, while pursuing remedies for all other factors.

Texas, at least, has stepped up. Now, the task is to vigorously get the word out.

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