Suicides among our nation's military members now claims more lives than combat.
According to a report out earlier this year, military suicides grew 15 percent in 2012 over 2011, with 349 service members taking their own lives, compared to the 295 troops who died in combat.
But even these number pale in comparison with suicide rates among the veteran population.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says last year 18 veterans committed suicide each day. That means one veteran took his or her own life, every eighty minutes.
It's a problem that's being called an epidemic by pentagon officials, who believe rising suicide rates are likely based on ten years of war and economic woes at home.
Here locally, veterans can reach out to the Volunteers of America for help transitioning back into the community after military life.
Gary Jaynes works with these men and women every day and says understanding the growing suicide rate means taking a walk in their boots.
This enemy within is often caused by things veterans experience in combat. Since most attempt to hide their symptoms, problems can build up and boil over. Jaynes believes military members who do not seek help are at risk of hurting themselves when troubles become too big to handle. His group helps veterans adjust to life after the military, giving them a place to live and treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or any other medical issue. Although the VOA's success rate is high, Jaynes says two veterans he's worked with have killed themselves in the last two years. He says the loss is personal, and with more young veterans returning home from war this year, he worries he'll see loss like this again.
If you are experiencing problems with depression or suicide, help is available. Please call the Veterans Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. There is also a free seminar, Thursday April 25th at the Samaritan Counseling Center in Shreveport for anyone who'd like to learn more about PTSD and treatment options in our area. For more information on this free event, call 318-221-6121.