U.S. Military Veteran Suicide in Relation to Prevention Efforts Via the 22-a-Day Movement

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The U.S. military involvement in foreign conflicts, specifically in the Middle East, since the 9/11 attacks, has been riddled with controversies ranging from the true validity of information justifying troop deployment in Iraq, the effects thereafter on international relations, to the mismanagement of funds garnered by the Department of Defense (DOD). It has not been until most recently, within the past five years, that that the human death toll on military personnel has gained much media attention.

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As Harrell & Berglass (2011) touch upon, the death toll has been further amplified by family members sharing stories of losing loved ones to suicide, and various headlines with attention grabbing titles that point out the mental instability of troops. The loss of life both in military conflict and in civilian settings in the U.S. holds true to the fact that military suicide has and will continue to be a serious issue stemming from the unique levels of stress associated with combat (pp. 13-18). A journal released by Wong (2012) outlines that the 22-a-Day movement aims to raise awareness regarding veteran suicide so that family members of loved ones may be able to recognize the signs and provide the proper help necessary to prevent suicide (pp. 20-21). This essay will critique the misguided execution of the 22-a-Day movement by first examining the morality of the movement through politics and human rights. Second, this essay will analyze the veteran suicide statistics in the U.S. since 2013 to compare with the success of the 22-a-Day movement since its emergence into the mainstream media. Third, this essay will critique the proclaimed success of the 22-a-Day movement through the analysis of scholarly texts in relation to U.S. military veteran suicide rates and the strategies and tactics used by the 22-a-Day movement.

The Main Issue: Military Suicide

In an online journal released by Harrell & Berglass (2011) emphasize that from 2005 to 2010, service members took their own lives at a rate of approximately one every 36 hours. While only 1% of total population has served in the most recent wars (in Iraq and Afghanistan), the veterans of those conflicts represent a total of 20% of death by suicide rates in the country (p.58). According to the Associated Press statistics, in the first 155 days of this year (2018), there were 154 suicides, which is an 18% increase from last year (2017). Furthermore, these statistics exclude veteran suicides, which are estimated to be at a rate of 22 per day, Wong (2012, pg. 23).

According to Wood (2011), who is a a senior military advisor and correspondent for the Huffington Post, after 10 years of war, the demand for courage is shifting off the battlefields and coming home (p. 18). Wood (2011) also stated that as troop withdrawals continue, the after-shocks that reverberate from a decade of combat are being felt here, among wounded veterans and their families, (p. 20). The rate of military personnel returning home who have been severely wounded is unprecedented despite the incredible medical advances.

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