Terry Sharpe is planning his 2017 Walk to raise awareness of the current Veteran suicide rate, which stands at 22 per day — the equivalent of one Veteran committing suicide every 65 minutes. Terry at age 66, will walk from Summerfield, NC to Washington, DC to bring attention to this terrible plight. That is a trip of 300 miles, some very hard miles, but Terry wants to bring attention to the Veteran’s Issues. Terry will be joined on his walk by Micheal Boncek who is also an avid walker devoted to drawing attention to Veteran issues.
6,500 former military personnel killed themselves in 2012. More Veterans succumbed to suicide than were killed in Iraq. In 2012, 177 active-duty soldiers committed suicide, conversely 176 soldiers were killed in combat. In other words, more soldiers committed suicide compared to being killed in action. In 2012, the study concluded that Army had the highest number of suicides compared to any other service branch. In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 Veterans were committing suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes.
More than 69% of all Veteran suicides were among those 50 and older. Mental-health professionals said one reason could be that these men give up on life after their children are out of the house or a longtime marriage falls apart. Even though more older Veterans are committing suicide, it’s difficult to predict what the toll of America’s newest wars will be. A survey by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America showed that 30% of service members have considered taking their own life, and 45% said they know an Iraq or Afghanistan Veteran who has attempted suicide.
Coming home from war, a six-month deployment on a ship, or simply transitioning from a life in uniform to a life without one, can be difficult and the various state and federal systems set up to deal with this transition and life after military services are unable to meet the need. The challenges of adjustment and transition, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, and physical disabilities, all need to be addressed especially as these things result in barriers to education, employment, health care, and overall individual well-being. Many of these needs are being met by a combination of different Veteran-serving nonprofits and VA support. Unfortunately, there are still gaps in the system.
To help support Terry in his efforts, please share links to the website, share the discussion, and keep coming back to stay updated on the progress of this walk.