Veterans continue to face extremely high levels of unemployment, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress and homelessness. Since 2000, nearly 6,000 servicemembers have experienced traumatic amputations from injuries caused by improvised explosive devices and other war-related dangers. Nearly one million active servicemembers have been diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder since 2000; nearly half of those have been diagnosed with two or more. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 22 veterans take their own lives each day. Last year, more U.S. military personnel died by their own hands than the hands of others. On any given night, nearly 63,000 veterans are homeless. Many suffer chronic debilitating mental health problems.
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! discusses the hurdles facing many veterans today with writer and photographer Ann Jones, author of the new book, "They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars—The Untold Story."
Ann Jones: "PTSD is a label that seems to cover everything and excuse everything. But another effect that it’s having in this current situation is that it leads soldiers to be, veterans to be heavily medicated. Now, that’s called treatment, but I’ve talked with one after another who tell me, "It didn’t treat me; it turned me into a zombie." And the effect it has for the Pentagon is it shuts our veterans up, so they can’t tell us what it was like for them in the war. I think if we could hear those stories, if they could tell them, and we had the courage to listen to them, we would change our minds about giving our executives the authority to hurl into wars, of their own choice, these all-volunteer armies, that—as long as we have these standing armies, that corrupt our democracy, the executive can go to war anytime he wants with this army, because we’re no longer getting pushback from the parents of a really democratic army."
You Can Get Help
If you are a U.S. military veteran and suicidal, call 800-273-8255
and press 1 or follow the link to Veterans Crisis Line website:
If today's a normal day, twenty-two vets will commit suicide, after rates have risen an average 2.6 percent each year from 2005 to 2011 until one out of every five U.S. suicides now involves a veteran.
The Veterans Crisis Line is a toll-free, confidential resource that connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders.
Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net*, or send a text message to 838255 to receive free, confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, even if they are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care. VA also provides support for Service members through the Military Crisis Line. Service members and their families and friends can call and text the Veterans Crisis Line numbers and can chat online at www.MilitaryCrisisLine.net.
A full transcript of this episode of Democracy Now! is available online here.