(RightIsRight.co) – The cost of war is always more than anticipated, as both citizens and political leaders often underestimate the far-reaching social, economic and physical repercussions. One such side effect of military service is often mental health struggles.
The military has tracked suicide numbers among its members since 9/11. The latest data showed a 46% rise in death by suicide among active-duty Army forces in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the year before, a trend seen across the ranks.
Unpacking the Statistics Around Military Suicide
A recent Pentagon report indicates that 41 active-duty Army service members died by suicide in the second quarter of 2020, and 60 died the same way in 2021’s second quarter. Fox News reporter Lucas Tomlinson shared the full data set from the Pentagon:
Pentagon: 46% spike in suicide among U.S. Army’s active-duty forces in Q2 compared to same period last year pic.twitter.com/ukOxqNEjFO
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) October 13, 2021
This startling rise in military deaths by suicide reflects a growing mental health crisis in the nation’s armed services. As factors like financial struggles, relationship strains, and lack of coping skills all factor in, people wonder who’s responsible for this tragedy. Some believe it’s military leadership who bears the responsibility. Whomever it is, though, there are groups committed to improving life for those serving this nation.
USO Centers Serve to Bring Hope and Connection to Service Men and Women
President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the United Service Organization (USO) before World War II. Its goal is to provide military members with the support they need to stay mentally healthy in a time of war. Suicide frequently occurs when soldiers feel unsafe or unsupported, which can happen more often than not when deployed overseas or in a combat zone. How soldiers handle it and the resources available make a difference.
To fight this isolation, the USO sets up centers, when possible, in and around military bases with free Wi-fi, comfy couches, and “no dough dinners” that provide free meals. At some USO centers, the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program allows service members to read and record their child’s favorite book to send home to family. This allows them to participate in family life while they can’t be there in person.
The goal is to provide a place where military members know they’re always safe and can decompress from their stressful days.
Decreasing the Stigma Around Mental Health
This is just one way the military is trying to combat suicide in its ranks, although it will be an ongoing battle. As those on the front lines must have a tough exterior when it comes to fighting our enemies, they also need a safe place to relax and unwind.
After putting their lives on the line for American freedom nearly every day, providing service members with the necessary tools and resources to find true rest and relaxation away from the warzone is the least our nation can do for them.
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