Report tracks suicide rate among war vets
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11/02/07 Mitch E.Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:

According to information obtained by the Associated Press from the Veterans Affairs Department, at least 283 combat veterans who left the military between the start of the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, and the end of 2005 took their own lives.

The AP reports that if you add the number of returning veterans and the finding is that at least 430 of the 1.5 million troops who have fought in the two wars have killed themselves over the past six years. And that doesn't include those who committed suicide after their combat tour ended and while still in the military — a number the Pentagon says it doesn't track.

Radio journalist Aaron Glantz is the author of How America Lost Iraq. He’s currently working on a new book that follows the plight of some veterans returning back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Glantz says there are other deaths not documented by the AP that could be considered suicides.

The Associated Press also reported this week that, according to a report from a military mental health task force, one major hurdle in stopping suicide is getting people to ask for help. From 20 to 50 percent of active duty troops and reservists who returned from war reported psychological problems, relationship problems, depression and symptoms of stress reactions, but most report that they have not sought help.

Glantz maintains a website called warcomeshome.org that documents the stories of the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. He agrees that many returning soldiers – both men and women – are stoic and believe they can handle the return to civilian life on their own.

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