Suicide rate climbs for young vets in New York; advocates step up to help address problem

Advocates are stepping up to help veterans, who are impacted by suicide at a greater rate than the rest of the population.

A recent report shows that younger veterans are more likely to die by suicide than older vets. The mission of a new effort is to understand why, and help address the challenges.

Retired U.S. Army Combat Engineer Patrick Kimball was twice deployed to Iraq. His job was to look for bombs. “Overseas, for us, was a whole lot of bullets and bombs for 15 months,” he told 13WHAM-TV.

Coming home was a challenge. It was an adjustment.

“I lost seven guys, at last count, that I had served directly with,” he added. “They came back from overseas and they brought a lot of trauma with them and, unfortunately, in some cases, it led to these seven guys taking their lives.”

However, as suicide rates among vets is declining in older populations – those 35 and older, in fact – they increased over the same period for vets between 18-34.

“It’s atrocious,” Laura Stradley, Executive Director of Veterans Outreach Center told 13WHAM. “It’s an absolute shame on our society that we haven’t been able to get our arms around this.”

The Veterans Outreach Center offers a variety of resources to help veterans. But they are only doing as much as staffing and resources allow. Throughout this process, VA facilities have been growing services offered. Same day services are now available in primary and mental health care.

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