- The suicide rate among active-duty troops has reached a five-year high according to a recently released Pentagon report.
In 2018, 541 active-duty troops died by their own hands. The suicide rate for 2018 is 24.8 suicide per 100,000. That is an increase from from the previous five years where the active-duty suicide rate averaged at 18.5 per 100,000. While active-duty suicide rates increased in 2018, the rate remained average for the National Guard and the Reserves.
We should remember the rates for active-duty, national guard and reserves are completely different than veterans. Veterans are former members of the military, and the veteran suicide rates are sky-high compared to uniformed members. While the number for active-duty troops is less than 600, over 6,000 veterans take their own lives every year. The 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report has summarized some very important points:
- The number of Veteran suicides exceeded 6,000 each year from 2008 to 2017.
- Among U.S. adults, the average number of suicides per day rose from 86.6 in 2005 to 124.4 in 2017. These numbers included 15.9 Veteran suicides per day in 2005 and 16.8 in 2017.
- In 2017, the suicide rate for Veterans was 1.5 times the rate for non-Veteran adults, after adjusting for population differences in age and sex.
- Firearms were the method of suicide in 70.7% of male Veteran suicide deaths and 43.2% of female Veteran suicide deaths in 2017.
- In addition to the aforementioned Veteran suicides, there were 919 suicides among never federally activated former National Guard and Reserve members in 2017, an average 2.5 suicide deaths per day.
Suicide isn’t just a problem with our military and veteran communities, it’s a national issue now. The veteran suicide report stated:
45,390 American adults died by suicide in 2017, compared with 31,610 in 2005… Across the nation, the number of suicide deaths has been rising since the turn of the millennium. From 2005 to 2017, there was a 43.6% increase in the number of suicide deaths in the general population and a 6.1% increase in the number of suicide deaths in the Veteran population.2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report
The veteran suicide report also reported on veterans homelessness, stating:
“In January 2017, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Point-in-Time Count estimated that 40,000 Veterans were homeless and just over 15,300 were living on the street or unsheltered on any given night. Homelessness appears to play a role in suicide for VHA (Veterans Health Administration) patients. VHA patients with indications of homelessness or who received homelessness-related services had higher rates of suicide than other VHA patients.”2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report
Why are suicide rates in the military and veteran community increasing? Why are they so high? Well, no where in the suicide reports do they mention the fact that the US has been at war day-in and day-out for over 18 years now. No where in the reports do they mention the violent culture perpetuated in the military, promoting toxic masculinity, patriarchy, militarism, homophobic and violent culture. Rehabilitation in the military is a joke because the US military actually wants racist, homophobic, non-thinking killers. I’m talking from experience here.
I just recently conducted an interview with a former US Army infantry veteran who deployed to Afghanistan during 2014, which will be published on The Peace Report Podcast very soon. When the uprising in Ferguson developed, infantry soldiers were excited to be deployed to Ferguson to shut down the riots with force. Just think about that for a second. Infantry soldiers in Afghanistan hearing about riots on US soil and getting excited about pointing their weapons at US citizens, specifically the black communities of the US. This story really highlights how violent the US military culture operates because the high command requires trigger-ready killers who not only obey commands immediately but also have an urge to commit violence at any second, or at every second.
Now, imagine separating from that violent culture and going to a university, or going to a civilian-job interview in a suit. Imagine stepping into a more “civilized” space with such a background of violence. How do you act? How to you prepare? How much should you speak about your “resume”? In addition, how do you interact with the US population who can’t even point to Afghanistan on a map let alone understand how much resources are being poured into the military operations overseas? You then go back to your isolated apartment, play video games and shut yourself off from the world because you don’t feel safe enough to share your experiences. Boom, 10 years pass by and you realize you’re doing the same thing. The VHA isn’t approving your PTSD, the lines are long and your appointments are months apart. At the same time, 5 veterans you know have committed suicide since you separated from the military. The US economy is in shambles, Trump is president and the world just doesn’t look like it’s getting any better. What choice do you look at? Click… Click…
We need your voice to dismantle US imperialism! We need your military skills to be used in the movement against US imperialism, militarism and even capitalism. In fact, it is a historical trend for veterans to come back home from the wars abroad and use their skills to fight back against the US government and the bourgeoisie it serves.
Members of the military are taught that they are “serving” the American people, but as an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran myself I know I only served the weapons corporations, politicians and other imperialists. While in uniform, I never actually provided a service to the American people, let alone the Iraqi or Afghan people. But now I do.
Not only do I create peace/antiwar propaganda for the masses, exposing the crimes of the US government, military and corporations, but I also organize against them. I work with several organizations to empower the working class against the bourgeoisie (the ruling class). And we need your help, your skills and your voice. Consider reaching out to the following organizations to contribute your services so we can create real change, end the wars, and build power to fight back against the corrupt, evil and oppressive state and bourgeoisie:
- About Face: Veterans Against the War
- Black Alliance For Peace
- Labor Against the War
- The Red Nation (Indigenous Collective)
- For The People – St. Louis
- For The People – Philadelphia
- For The People – Atlantic City
- For The People – Asbury Park
- For The People – Omaha
- For The People – Salt Lake City
- For The People – Oklahoma
- International League of People’s Struggles
- BAYAN USA (Filipino Support Org)
- Courage to Resist
- Military Rape Crisis Center
- Korean Friends Association USA
- Friends of the Congo
- New Afrikan Black Panther Party
- ANTICONQUISTA (LatinX and Caribbean Collective)