Reports from the Department of Defense (DoD) reveal that in 2013 there were 479 suicides reported from all branches of the U.S. armed forces. That year, the number of servicemember suicides was greater than the number of combat casualties during all but one year of Operation Enduring Freedom.
With military suicide still a growing issue for both active duty and veteran servicemembers, the DoD took action to improve the programs meant to combat suicide. Recently, Keita Franklin was named the new director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO), the DoD’s primary source of suicide prevention and education.
The appointment also comes with a raise in prestige, with the director of the DSPO now ranking as a Senior Executive Service position. The DoD made this move to “reinforce the department’s commitment to decreasing the incidence of suicide and increasing resiliency across the armed forces,” says Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Jessica Wright.
Before taking the new position, Director Franklin was the head of the Behavioral Health Branch at the Marine Corps Headquarters. While in that role, she was leading five behavioral health programs that included suicide prevention. Now, she hopes to bring her interest in post-traumatic stress symptoms and their connection to family functioning to her new role.
Suicide is also a concern for servicemembers after they completed their active duty. According to the 2012 Veterans Suicide Data Report from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), we lost an estimated 22 veterans every day to suicide in 2010. More than 69 percent of all veteran suicides reported between 1999 and 2010 involved veterans age 50 and older.
If you are a U.S. veteran who is suffering from a combat-related disability, you may be entitled to compensation from the VA through veterans’ disability benefits. Contact Veterans Help Group® for help filing or appealing a disability claim. Call today – 1-855-855-8992.