Earlier this year (2019), the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a study showing an average of 17 (16.8) veterans commit suicide each day. This number was lower than that previously reported (as many as 22 per day in earlier years) because the VA did not include members who were active at time of death or were former Guard or Reserve members who never federally activated.
The State of Georgia has sought to address the growing number of veterans who faced criminal charges stemming from problems directly related to their military service.
For this reason, many Georgia Counties developed what are referred to as Veterans Courts. These are accountability courts designed to help treat the underlying problems associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (known commonly as PTSD). Unfortunately, these programs are not always available, depending largely upon where the veteran resides.
The problems can stem from un-diagnosed or under-diagnosed PTSD. Some veterans do not fully express the severity of their symptoms and as a result do not obtain (and are not offered) sufficient treatment, if any. In my experience, former service members are concerned that they may "take someone else's spot," referring to other service members who need treatment - usually those bearing more visible injuries.
When the problems associated with PTSD go unaddressed, it can affect the veteran's family, social, and work life. Many times, the veteran's "self-treatment" through the use of alcohol or other substances will lead to criminal charges.
As previously indicated, there is hope. In recognition of the veteran's service and by participation in a veterans court program, it may be possible to keep a criminal conviction off of their record while simultaneously assisting the veteran in successfully overcoming or coping with PTSD or substance abuse.
I am a huge supporter of these programs and have seen them work firsthand. If you are a veteran or know a veteran who has run into problems with the law as a result of the hidden scars associated with military service, please seek assistance. Call (770)474-9335 to discuss what options might be available to help with the criminal case.
If it is an emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
If the veteran has yet to become involved in criminal charges, but needs assistance, please act. There are many resources available in addition to the VA. I have provided links to some of them below:
For more information about Veteran Suicide and PTSD, check out Jocko Podcasts Episodes 123 and 124 (there are many others, these just happen to be my personal favorites).