Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Guards, reserves 53% of US vet suicides

Tue, 12 Feb 2008 10:41:47

US National Guard and Reserve troops who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan wars comprise more than half the veterans who committed suicide.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs analysis of research of deaths among veterans of both wars, the guard or reserve members made up 53 percent of the veteran suicides from 2001, the beginning of the Afghanistan war through the end of 2005, after returning home.

In November last year, US President George W. Bush signed the Joshua Omvig suicide prevention bill, which directed the US Department of Veterans Affairs to improve the mental health training for its staff and advance the screening and treating of veterans.

Joshua Omvig was an Iowa Reservist who shot himself in front of his mother in December 2005 after an 11-month tour in Iraq.

According to the VA's research, 144 veterans committed suicide from the start of the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, through the end of 2005.

Of the 144 veterans, 35 veterans, or 24 percent, served in the Reserves and 41, or 29 percent, had served in the National Guard and 68 of them, 47 percent had been members of the regular military services.

According to the army, the suicide rate rose to 17.3 per 100,000 troops last year, the highest level in 26 years.

However the army recently reported that as many as 121 soldiers committed suicide last year which if confirmed would be more than double the number reported in 2001.

The VA study does not include those who committed suicide in the war zones or those who remained in the military after returning home from war.


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