In their view ...

Published:

There were two big news stories recently relating to veterans, one concerning suicides, the other concerning jobs. The subjects are not unrelated.

Military suicides rose to record levels in 2012, with as many as 349 (239 confirmed and 110 being investigated as probable). This epidemic, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has rightly called it, is occurring even with the war in Iraq having ended for American troops and the one in Afghanistan winding down. (In fact, the 349 suicides far exceeded the number of combat deaths last year in Afghanistan.) ...

The reasons aren't necessarily related to the stress of combat, but most of the dead soldiers presumably served in at least one of those extremely challenging war zones, and one of those multiple deployments the military has come to rely on. That's bound to take a psychological toll, and can easily lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

Add to that the difficulty of adjusting to a routine military and domestic life after one's tour is over, or the prospect of civilian life after one's military career is over... and the problems are exacerbated. Then add such things as failed romantic relationships, alcohol use and guns, and the chances of suicide become that much greater. ...

... They also suffer from high unemployment, partly due to the perceptions that they're unstable and their military skills aren't transferable to the civilian world.

But veterans can be very good employees. They are mission-oriented, quick learners and team players...

A nation that spends hundreds of billions to train soldiers and send them to war should be able to bring them home and successfully reintegrate them into society. It must also do more to make sure they get to that point, to keep them from killing themselves before they leave military service.

The (Schenectady, N.Y. ) Daily Gazette

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