The tragic suicide this week of comedian Robin Williams only serves to remind us how dark and plaguing an illness like depression can be. The spiraling circle that is depression is often exacerbated by other mental illnesses such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Unfortunately, the sad truth is that many of our veterans return from war suffering from both.
According to The Kansas City Star, a minimum of 22 veterans take their own lives each day. This adds up to approximately 8,030 veterans every year, making the total number of Americans who have died in combat since 2000 (10,550 or 754 each year) pale in comparison. These numbers sadly show that we are losing more of our servicemen and women off the battlefield than on it.
The VA has been established to provide veterans with the healthcare they so desperately need. Included in this healthcare is the health of the mind. Though the need for awareness of mental health and wellness is recognized by public institutions as high up as the White House, there has been too much controversy and red tape in the Veterans Administration for any notable progress to be made. In the end, our veterans are gone from us and their family members suffer the anguish of such a loss.
Suicide can be prevented. If you or a veteran you know is suffering from depression, PTSD, or any other mental illness, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. You can call the Veterans Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Both are available 24/7.
Dan Curry is an attorney in Kansas City who helps veterans at the appellate level receive medical and monetary benefits to which they are entitled. He can be reached at 877.VET.WINS.