Veterans Day. A time to honor and thank the men and women who have served our country. We celebrate Veterans Day on November 11th as it is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended World War 1.
On this day, it is important to not only recognize veterans for what they have done – but to also understand there is much more to do. Many veterans continue to struggle with physical and mental health issues…particularly here in Arizona.
Veterans living in Arizona are at a higher risk for suicide than many other states according to new data from the Arizona Violent Death Reporting System.
393 Arizona veterans died from suicide from January 2015 to June 2016.
“That leads to about 24 veterans a month committing suicide in the state of Arizona,” said Professor Charles Katz, one of the researchers and Director of the Center for Violence Prevention at Arizona State University.
“That’s almost one a day.”
AzFamily.com put together a story featuring a woman who organizes a 5K run called “22 Too Many” which took place last weekend. The race is designed to increase public knowledge and awareness of the mental health issues our local veterans face. Race organizer, Emily Aiton, also hopes the run will encourage veterans to reach out for the help they may need.
And Forbes Magazine listed several key statistics that highlight the difficulties many veterans face after they return home.
- At least 20% of the veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from either major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Only 50% of returning veterans who need mental health treatment will receive services
- Women veterans are four times as likely to become homeless as male veterans, while all returning veterans are twice as likely to become chronically homeless as other Americans
- Shockingly, it is estimated that 1/3 of adult homeless men and nearly 1/4 of all homeless adults have served in the armed forces
- Of those known homeless veterans, 91% are male, 98% are single, 76% live in a city and 54% have a mental and/or physical disability
- Painkillers and PTSD are the twin pillars of a new crisis in America, per mental health experts
- According to data published by the VA, an average of 20 veterans died from suicide every day in 2014
So many veterans are paying a steep price to allow us the freedoms we enjoy every day. They not only deserve our thanks, they deserve our commitment to make sure they get whatever help they might need. Happy Veterans Day!