120 War Vets Commit Suicide Each Week

By Penny Coleman, AlterNet_Posted on November 26,
2007, Printed on November 26, 2007

Earlier this year, using the clout that only
major broadcast networks seem capable of
mustering, CBS News contacted the governments of
all 50 states requesting their official records
of death by suicide going back 12 years. They
heard back from 45 of the 50. From the mountains
of gathered information, they sifted out the
suicides of those Americans who had served in the
armed forces. What they discovered is that in
2005 alone — and remember, this is just in 45
states — there were at least 6,256 veteran
suicides, 120 every week for a year and an
average of 17 every day.

As the widow of a Vietnam vet who killed himself
after coming home, and as the author of a book
for which I interviewed dozens of other women who
had also lost husbands (or sons or fathers) to
PTSD and suicide in the aftermath of the war in
Vietnam, I am deeply grateful to CBS for
undertaking this long overdue investigation. I am
also heartbroken that the numbers are so
astonishingly high and tentatively optimistic
that perhaps now that there are hard numbers to
attest to the magnitude of the problem, it will
finally be taken seriously. I say tentatively
because this is an administration that melts hard
numbers on their tongues like communion wafers.

Since these new wars began, and in spite of a
continuous flood of alarming reports, the
Department of Defense has managed to keep what
has clearly become an epidemic of death beneath
the radar of public awareness by systematically
concealing statistics about soldier suicides.
They have done everything from burying them on
official casualty lists in a category they call
“accidental noncombat deaths” to outright lying
to the parents of dead soldiers. And the
Department of Veterans Affairs has rubber-stamped
their disinformation, continuing to insist that
their studies indicate that soldiers are killing
themselves, not because of their combat
experiences, but because they have “personal

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