Veterans and Suicide: The Unfortunate Truth


Randle De Graaf, Staff Writer

Last Monday began like any other. I took a shower, then made a cup of coffee.

Everything was normal until I logged into my Facebook account and saw that a friend of mine, a fellow Marine I had served with in Twenty-Nine Palms, had killed himself.

Unfortunately, like many others, my friend had succumbed to his demons and sadly, he won’t be the last.

Suicide and military service are two things that draw no immediate association, but go hand-in-hand with each other. Many men and women return home from foreign service without direction and with memories of unspeakable things. Since recorded history, man has struggled with the baggage of war, and the struggle is very much alive.

In America today, as many as 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

Which begs the question, what draws our fighting men and women to be brought to such a low point?

“Military PTSD is different than most cases of civilian PTSD in that we have full knowledge and sometimes willingness to participate in something that no person is ever truly ready for which is war,” said Jacob Martinez, Production Manager for The Beacon and fellow military veteran.

“My entire worldview would change after every deployment and I felt caught in a loop of death and disregard. A loop that I volunteered to enter. An average person can stumble upon a traumatic experience and have that affect their lives, but it’s mind-altering to sign a contract and actively participate in causing a loss of life. That’s a debt that not many people can comprehend.”

That debt, many veterans feel, cannot be paid.

With such high levels of suicide among our veteran community, what can be done?

First, we can increase awareness of the issue. PTSD itself is still a relatively unknown illness, with many questions still left unanswered.

Secondly, we can provide more funding for services such as the Veterans Administration, or increased funding for PTSD research.

The Veterans Administration is notorious for being corrupt, and often understaffed, so increasing funding will allow more veterans to get help.

Lastly, we can keep an eye out for the warning signs of suicide, especially from our veterans. Loss of interest, abrupt changes in their lives, alcoholism and depression are just a few.

Suicide is never the answer. If you are a veteran contemplating suicide or know someone who is, call 1-800-273-8255, or text 838-255.