|Kimberly Mitchell weeps at the grave of her husband, Chad Mitchell, at the Houston National
Cemetery. Chad, an Iraq War veteran, was one of hundreds of former service members from Texas who have died not in a war zone but after returning home. He died of an accidental overdose in 2010. PHOTO: Jay Janner
August 22, 2014 Patrick Kellen
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, on average 22 veterans take their lives per day. This estimate though does not count states that did not participate in the study, including California, Texas and Illinois so that number is likely much higher. The estimate also does not take into account some additional situations such as homeless veterans that cannot be identified, or if there is no note along with the suicide.
An analysis by news21 found that the suicide rate is more than twice as high among veterans vs the overall population. About 1 in 5 suicides in America is a veteran suicide. This problem is also getting worse, as suicides have increased 44 percent over the last two years of data available.
With the current VA crisis, there seems to be little combating this disturbing trend. This is another reminder of the real costs of our wars overseas. It was bad enough to lose thousands overseas in unnecessary wars, but to lose thousands every year back home is unacceptable. They deserve better treatment for their years of service.
War has exacted a heavy toll on the mental health of soldiers. We have seen the effects of war on our nation, but the human cost is the most devastating. We have seen our soldiers come home to unemployment, to homelessness and now to suicide. Why do we even consider engaging in more conflicts if we can't even take care of our soldiers when they return home?
In the past there used to be well-paying manufacturing jobs waiting for our soldiers when they returned home. Due to "free trade" agreements like NAFTA those jobs are gone. "Free trade" means unrestricted, uncontrolled access to our economy, tariff- and duty-free, for goods made for $4-per-hour or less. We cannot compete with these wages so we are forced to choose between going bankrupt, outsourcing nearly all of our manufacturing or simply selling out.
We need to wake up America! Can't we see the disease that is running through our country? These "free trade" agreements have sold us out. We must get rid of these agreements if we are ever to restore our nation.