US battles against veteran suicide rate

MORNING STAR, 16 July 2008


THE US Veterans Affairs Department (VA) launched a new advertising campaign on Tuesday aiming to reduce the soaring suicide rate among soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Based on data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the VA has estimated that 18 veterans a day, or 6,500 a year, take their own lives.

The ads, which declare: "It takes the courage and strength of a warrior to ask for help," include the VA suicide hotline number.

They will run in the Washington area inside subway stations and on buses for three months, as part of a pilot project.

The city was chosen, in part, because of its proximity to veterans' hospitals and military bases.

Stories of veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are now being reported with increasing regularity in newspapers like the Army Times and the Marine Corps Times, which are widely read by soldiers, veterans and their families.

On July 8, Army Times published a story on Joseph Patrick Dwyer, an Iraq war veteran whose image was captured by a Military Times photographer as he ran through a battle zone carrying a small Iraqi boy named Ali.

The photo ran in newspapers across the US and was hailed as "a portrait of the heart behind the US military machine."

On June 28, Mr Dwyer died of what was ruled an accidental overdose following years of struggling with PTSD.