Most Veteran Suicides From National Guard and Reserves

A study by the Department of Veterans Affairs concludes that Reservists and members of the National Guard who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq comprise a majority of all suicides by veterans between 2001 when the invasion of Afghanistan took place and 2005 when the United States was actively involved in Iraq. Soldiers from these two groups constitute 53% of veteran suicides from this period. Of the 144 suicides during this time, 24% were from those who served in the Reserves and 29% from members of the National Guard.

Paul Riedhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America believes there has been inaequate counselling available to these veterans and the continued pressure of being away from families over an extended time period, has been damaging to many who served. “National Guardsmen and reservists are literally in Baghdad one week and in Brooklyn the next, and the transition is tough.”

The nation has asked tremendous sacrifices of those in the National Guard or Reserves. They are deployed for 18 months from family and their careers, and, all too frequently head back for anothe 18 months. The United States of America has failed these gallant individuals by refusing to either curtail such military ventures or obtaining the necessary manpower to carry them out. This is simply another legacy of Bush’s tragic mistakes in the Middle East.

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  • MAJ David Messerli

    May name is MAJ David Messerli. I am an Army National Guard officer currently attending the US Army’s Command and General Staff College at Ft Leavenworth, Kansas.
    I have been deployed to Iraq in 2003 and Egypt in 2008 with a National Guard battalion. I do not believe that the increased numbers of suicides in the reserve components are due to the time deployed, the lack of dwell time before the next deployment or a “legacy of Bush’s tragic mistakes in the Middle East”. From my experience of coming home twice after being away for over a year, there has been a concerted effort by the Army to provide mental health screening and services to our reserve component Soldiers returning home. There are briefings prior to leaving theater, programs and briefings at the demobilization stations and programs and briefings that Soldiers and families attend once they return home. There are many ways to get professional counseling that are free to the service member and their families. We are informed multiple times in a variety of ways of how we may receive mental health care. I agree that long and repeated deployments are hard on our reserve component Soldiers, but not any harder than on our active component brothers and sisters. Pointing the finger of blame on former President Bush will not decrease the statistics.
    The above statement is my opinion and does not reflect the policies of the Department of Defense, the Department of the Army or the United Sates government.