Ben Patten served in the Army during a time of peace, but others are not as lucky. A close friend of his developed extreme PTSD and ended his own life.
“I don’t know that when these young people get out if they’re given the education or tools to know where these vet centers are or why these places exist,” Patten says.
The rate of young veterans (ages 18-29) committing suicide has increased nearly 50% in the past few years, yielding 60 suicides for every 100,000 vets. On the contrary, the number of post-war suicides is decreasing for veterans ages 35-64 in the last three years.
“There’s people that certainly have that desire and sometimes they just need to get some help,” says Dick Taylor, Director of the Kern County Veteran Service Department
Taylor attributes the increase in suicides to the break-neck pace of a military career, while Patten says it’s due to the change in economy and job availability.
“Look back to world war two. When those guys got home they went to work putting hub caps on Buicks. They went to work building houses, they had something to do. These youngsters coming home today… they don’t always have that.”
VA affairs has made targeted efforts to seek mental health treatments and community involvement for those returning from war. Some services available include: Veterans Service Office, California Veterans Assistance Foundation, armed Forces Support Rides, and Patriot Guard Riders. Just over a third of the nations twenty-two million veterans are enrolled to receive health care at VA centers.
“These brave young men and women they’re stepping up,” says Patten. ”They shouldn’t have to suffer through this.”
Veterans are also able to seek help online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255