There are 20 veteran suicides every day. I have witnessed and written about the Georgia VA building a fence in the parking lot to stop veterans from committing suicide in the parking lot of the Decatur, Georgia VA office. Yes, that’s right, instead of addressing why the veterans were literally throwing themselves off a cliff to suicide, the VA in its infinite wisdom builds a fence so high that the veterans (most of whom are disabled) cannot reach the top of the fence to kill themselves.
According to the President, veteran suicide is a tragedy of staggering proportions,” as he unveiled a new program in hopes of stemming these tragic suicides. The initiative is dubbed the “President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide.” Hopefully, it will make and impact.
The VA itself identified veteran suicide as its highest clinical priority last year and released a 10-year strategy to address the crisis. From 2008 through 2016, more than 6,000 veterans took their lives each year – totaling more than 54,000 deaths. This is an astonishing figure and one that needed to be addressed. But the big issue is not just throwing money at this problem, but getting to the bottom if it and understanding exactly what is causing veterans to take their lives at a rate of up to 2.5 times that of the rest of the population. As a veteran myself, my personal view is that a lot of this problem can be attributed to the culture in the VA that is demoralizing and degrading. If anyone has tried to receive care and treatment at a VA facility, you may know what I am talking about. Instead of treating our veterans with dignity and respect, the VA treats our veterans with disdain and disgust. I have seen this first-hand and it is not acceptable. To make matters worse, this convoluted attitude is passed down from the highest levels at the VA right down to the orderlies that work in the facilities.