A Better Way Forward

Jeff Millter | TIME | October 1, 2012

The recent headline on the Drudge Report screamed, MORE AMERICANS NOW COMMIT SUICIDE THAN DIE IN CAR CRASHES. In a Wall Street Journal opinion article last week, we read about the life of Peter Wielunski, a veteran who, while receiving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), took his own life. Another life cut short quite possibly by invisible wounds of war.

These stories are unfortunately, becoming all too frequent as we as a nation continue to struggle to adequately address the causes and effects of mental health issues like PTS on servicemembers, veterans, and civilians alike. Sadly, while these stories result in a lot of talk, a lot of articles, and a lot of analysis, they don’t often result in a lot action.

September was Suicide Prevention Month. More than 105 Americans commit suicide a day. Included in that statistic, it is estimated by VA and the Department of Defense that 18 veterans, and one active-duty servicemember, take their own lives every day. Those numbers are too high, despite the fact that more often than not, the treatment for PTS is readily available. Just not always through VA when it is needed most. And therein lies the problem.