by Jeremy Butler
October 6, 2019
The Department of Veterans Affairs recently reported that a shocking 21 veterans died by suicide each day in 2017.
This is an increase from the previous figure: “only” 20 veterans a day took their own lives in 2016. The problem is even more acute, however, because the total population of veterans in the United States decreased by 2% over the same year. These numbers prompt reflection and, of course, sadness. But I am also angry.
Just hours before the VA released this number, I was at the White House providing advice to a new task force: the “President's Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End the National Tragedy of Suicide,” which goes by the acronym PREVENTS. As we gathered so that experts in veterans issues could provide important feedback to this administration’s marquee program for addressing the veteran suicide epidemic, these new numbers never came up. No mention was made of this report even as we were doing our best to inform Administration efforts.