Army Suicide Rate Reaches 27-Year Record High; IAVA Releases Groundbreaking Report on Troops' Mental HealthCONTACT: Chrissy Stevens (212) 982-9699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Army Suicide Rate Reaches 27-Year Record High; IAVA Releases Groundbreaking Report on Troops' Mental Health
IAVA Report Reveals Scope of Mental Health Problems and Proposes Crucial Policy Changes
NEW YORK - Responding to preliminary data released today by the Department of Defense (DoD) revealing a record-high suicide rate in the Army, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation's first and largest nonpartisan group for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, introduced a comprehensive report on the psychological injuries faced by our newest generation of veterans.
"The suicide numbers released today come as no surprise to veterans, who have experienced first-hand the psychological toll of war. Since the Iraq war began, suicide rates and other signs of psychological injury, like marital strain and substance abuse, have been increasing every year," said IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff. "The DOD and the VA must take bold and immediate action. Our new report recommends tangible, effective policies to help troops and veterans get the care they need."
According to preliminary military data released by the Associated Press, at least 128 Army soldiers committed suicide in 2008, compared to 115 in 2007. These numbers do not include suicides among veterans, for whom suicide is a growing problem. According to the VA records from 2002 to 2006, at least 254 Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans have killed themselves.
The new IAVA report shows these numbers are reflective of larger trends. Servicemembers deploying on long and repeated combat tours face higher rates of combat stress. In combat and at home, these invisible injuries are exacerbated by inadequate mental health screening and limited access to counseling.
Just this week, IAVA also introduced its' 2009 Legislative Agenda, which calls for improving mandatory mental health and TBI screening, increasing access to trained mental health professionals, and ensuring military families have access to mental health care.
"The new numbers represent the highest Army suicide rate in 27 years," said IAVA Policy Director Vanessa Williamson. "If we're going to address the spike in suicide rates, we have to start by ensuring every servicemember coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan gets face-to-face screening from a mental health professional."
To read the full report, "Invisible Wounds: Psychological and Neurological Injuries Confront a New Generation of Veterans," visit: www.iava.org/mentalhealthreport.
To arrange an interview with IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff or Policy Director Vanessa Williamson, please contact Chrissy Stevens at (212) 982-9699 or Chrissy@iava.org.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the country's first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 125,000 veteran members and civilian supporters nationwide. Its mission is to improve the lives of this country's newest generation of veterans and their families.
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