WASHINGTON – Americans have been in an uproar since news broke that the Department of Veterans Affairs may have engaged in widespread false-record keeping and subjected veterans to excessively long waiting lists for medical care—which may have led to unnecessary deaths. But while that scandal draws the ire of millions of people, polls show that Americans are “totally unaware” that every day 22 veterans commit suicide, or about one every 65 minutes.
“Really?” said Mark Bowls of Albany when told of the high veteran suicide rate. “Every veteran I know seems pretty happy. Except that guy Dave, who hangs out by the freeway onramp begging for change, but I figured he was the exception.”
Others knew that soldiers often experience unique hardships after returning from combat, but “figured they’d be able to handle it on their own.”
“These are like, the toughest dudes around, right?” asked Frank Lennox of Santa Monica, California. “I know they have the PTSD or whatever, but still—suicide just seems so unsoldierly, you know?”
The poll, which questioned over ten thousand Americans from every state, found that most people believe veterans live a “largely pleasant life, bestowed with honors and gratitude” and that they “must be pretty happy people, knowing they’ve served their country honorably.”
Data indicate that this perception is largely untrue, however. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ own figures, about 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States. Surprisingly, that number may be too conservative, as many large states like California and Texas did not make data available.
“Well, I’m just shocked,” said Jolene Hart of Portland, Maine. “It’s time we start addressing this issue. We need to make our veterans aware that they are appreciated and loved. This Memorial Day, we should all go out and buy a veteran a beer.”
Forty-one percent of veterans entering the health system are diagnosed with depression or another mental health disorder, and as many as 20% suffer from alcoholism.