I am a retired (21 ½ years) Infantry First Sergeant (E-8) who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. After my retirement in April 2011, I saw first hand the hardships that are associated with leaving the Military. I am now commited to help elavate and serve those who served as a counselor and a service coordinator in Boise, Idaho.
Army suicide rates decline for first time in 4 years
This is a topic that always needs to be discussed and should never fall out of the spotlight. The most important thing service members and veterans need to remember is there are people who can help and by making the step to talk to someone is the bravest thing anyone can do.
Army suicide rates decline for first time in 4 years By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
Army suicide rates declined for the first time in four
years in 2011, the result of a complex effort to identify soldiers engaged in
risky or self-destructive behavior, according to the outgoing vice chief of
staff, Gen. Peter
"I think we've at least arrested this problem and hopefully
will start to push it down," Chiarelli said Thursday, citing additional numbers
showing an increase in hospitalizations for soldiers who talk of suicide. "For
all practical purposes … it has leveled off."
But he said there also remain second- and third-order
effects from a decade of war and multiple deployments, including a sharp rise in
sexual assaults and child and domestic abuse in the Army.
"We see these problems, we see where we've had successes.
And we're attacking those areas where we've got problems," Chiarelli said.
"After 10 years of war … we had problems that no one could have forecast."
Suicides among active duty soldiers and those in the National
Guard and Reserve who are not on active duty fell by 9% last year from from
305 deaths in 2010 to 278 in 2011.
It is the first good news on suicide for the Army since
those deaths began a steady increase among active-duty soldiers in 2004.
Still, the suicide rate in the Army, estimated at 24 per
100,000 last year, remains far higher than a similar demographic among
civilians, estimated at 19 per 100,000. The rate among soldiers who have served
in Iraq and Afghanistan ranges even higher, up to 38 per 100,000, the Army says.
As the increase continued, Chiarelli was appointed in 2009
to look at underlying causes and began a campaign of targeting risky behavior
across the service, demanding more accountability from commanders.
He said Thursday that the efforts have been successful.
According to a trend analysis released Thursday, the number
of soldiers kicked out of the service for misconduct increased by 57% since
2006, and the Army did away with accepting convicted felons on special
The result was to bar from enlistment or muster out about
40,000 potential people in that time, according to the report. Overall crime is
down. The number of soldiers committing multiple felonies has dropped.
But with alcohol abuse in the Army at record levels, sexual
assault and domestic violence have increased.
The percentage of soldiers committing sex crimes has
increased 32% since 1006.
The number of domestic abusers in the Army grew by 50% from
4,827 in 2008 to 7,228 last year. During that same, the number of child-abuse
offenders is up 62% from 3,172 to 5,149, according to the report released
— Years of combat, along with more aggressive efforts to
screen for mental illness and brain injury, have had an impact. More than 15,000
concussion cases were identified in the Army in 2010, five times as many as
diagnosed in 2000. The nearly 11,000 PTSD
cases in 2010 were 15 times higher than in 2003.
— The Army estimates that the total number of
servicemembers from all branches of service afflicted with PTSD may be nearing a
half million, half of them soldiers.
— More complex wounds have led to longer periods of
rehabilitation before soldiers return to duty or leave the Army. Nearly 7,000
have been convalescing for one to two years, and nearly 1,300 for two to three