Examining Issue of Veterans Suicide on Veterans Day - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Examining Issue of Veterans Suicide on Veterans Day


DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Across America 22 veterans commit suicide a day. That grim number is from a 2012 Department of Veterans Affairs study of the issue. And the VA says even that number is probably an underestimate, because its data was incomplete.

Monday the Associated Press reported active-duty military suicides dropped by almost a quarter from 2012 to 2013. There were almost 320 at this time last year. This year it is a little less than 250.

That's active duty. Monday was Veterans Day.

Dave Skocick, president of the Delaware Veterans Coalition, emceed the Veterans Day event at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park. He underscored the importance of being there for vets, including the newest ones.

"We do everything we can make our veterans feel welcome, to encourage them to get the help they need, or come to us," he said. "We can certainly refer them to the right people if they're having physical or emotional problems."

When it comes to servicemen and women coming back from war, Jim Lafferty, executive director of the Mental Health Association in Delaware, says it's important to welcome them back.

"Veterans who are returning home are coming back with an experience that very few other people have had," he Some of the folks coming back, maybe even many of them, are coming back with emotional scars."

Major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder - Lafferty says these are medical-treatable conditions. He stress vets seek help.

The VA has hotline vets can call. It's phone number is 1-800-273-8255. In Delaware, a person gets back to them within 24 hours.

Kent Johnson is one of the state's two social workers tasked with that. He says he gets two to five calls a week. Johnson then sets up someone for the vet to speak with, to evaluate the situation and figure out what needs to happen next.

"There should be no stigma associated with seeking help for an emotional or mental health condition," said Lafferty.

And Johnson says all veterans should know they're not alone, especially on Veterans Day.

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