Today is Veteran’s Day. Today, we remember and honor those who have served and continue to serve in the United States military. However, we need to be thinking about the 22 on this day.
We need to be thinking about the 22 veterans who die by suicide each day. We need to be thinking about the 22 veterans who we as a society have failed. We need to be thinking about how we can bring that number down.
Veterans serve our nation, often at great personal cost to themselves. They are away from friends and loved ones for extended periods of time. And they do far more than just fight in wars. The men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard risk their lives to keep us safe at sea. Members of the NOAA Corps develop essential scientific information about our seas and our skies. Numerous scientific and technological advances come out of our armed forces. The Army has a unit that investigates and responds to possible pandemics. Long story short, they do a lot.
Yet too much our funds go to the development of our military programs, and too little goes to the care for veterans. Too many of them find themselves homeless, battling a mental illness, dealing with substance abuse, and sadly, 22 of them lose their lives to suicide.
And we need to remember those 22 suicides a day. Especially on a day like Veteran’s Day. Because there are no shortage of people who talk about how thankful they are for the service of our voluntary military force. Yet too few talk about those 22 who die unnecessarily. Too often they are forgotten, as society remains silent.
We remember Veteran’s Day today because on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns of World War I fell silent. Yet everyday 22 veteran voices fall silent, their lives cut short by suicide. And we cannot forget them, nor can we continue to fail them.