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IAVA | March 5, 2020

Top vet group survey: 44 percent report suicidal thoughts since joining military

The Hill, March 5, 2020

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) this week released a survey showing that 44 percent of respondents said they have thought about suicide since joining the military, with only 10 percent saying they had thought about it prior to military service.

The top veteran advocacy organization’s 10th annual survey was issued over a three-week period in December and January to all IAVA member veterans and over 1,700 veterans responded.

Only 15 percent of those surveyed said the U.S. is making progress on combating military and veteran suicide. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they personally know a post-9/11 veteran who has attempted suicide, up from 65 percent in 2019 and 54 percent in 2015.

Sixty-two percent of those polled said they personally know a veteran who has died by suicide, up from 59 percent in 2019, 45 percent in 2015, and 40 percent in 2014.

IAVA members were on Capitol Hill this week for a fly-in event for veterans to meet with lawmakers to lobby on behalf of the post-9/11 generation of veterans.

On Tuesday, IAVA CEO Jeremy Butler testified before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs committees about legislative priorities, including increasing the reach of mental health services to veterans and access to marijuana for veterans.

Another focus of the survey was on President Trump’s immigration policies.

When asked about their opinion on the $3.6 billion in military construction funds diverted to pay for the U.S.-Mexico border wall in 2019, only one-fourth of respondents strongly agreed with using military funds for this purpose. Forty-five percent said they strongly disagreed with diverting the funds.

The group was split on opinions about 6,000 military personnel being deployed to the Mexican border.

Thirty-one percent of respondents said they strongly agree with it and 31 percent said they strongly disagree.

Only 26 percent strongly agreed with the law that noncitizens may be deported after committing a crime, regardless of veteran status or military service.

Only four percent said they have been personally impacted by immigration policy.

Additionally, 50 percent said they opposed the impeachment of Trump. Thirty-five percent said they strongly agreed that Trump acts in the interest of veterans and 3 percent strongly agreed that Congress acts in the interest of veterans.

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