Military Suicides Spike! Are we doing enough, or should we just “suck it up?”

by | Jul 12, 2012

Military suicides spike; reasons unclear

Surge comes after recent leveling out

June 8, 201

“Because suicides had leveled off in 2010 and 2011, this year’s upswing has caught some officials by surprise.
The reasons for the increase are not fully understood. Among explanations, studies have pointed to combat exposure, post-traumatic stress, misuse of prescription medications and personal financial problems. Army data suggest soldiers with multiple combat tours are at greater risk of committing suicide, although a substantial proportion of Army suicides are committed by soldiers who never deployed.”
It is not uncommon to hear military leaders say, “suck it up, and move on with your life.”  In fact, this statement is not new at all.  That’s exactly what my Dad, Vernon, was told when he came home after 4 years of combat duty during WWII.   Dad was not alone.  Countless WWII combat veterans then and in all wars following, have been told the same thing, “suck it up.”   My Dad did suck it up, including resorting to alcohol abuse, fits of rage, abusive behavior toward our family, and subsequently a miserable existence until later in life.  But later in life was after the entire family was affected with secondary PTSD and all the baggage that goes with it.  The worst of it is we didn’t even know what all this toxic behavior in our family was about until recently following the publication of my book.
I know from personal experience and years of observation that the “suck it up” treatment doesn’t work.  The invisible pain of moral injury and PTSD does not stay inside.  It is big time baggage and will burst out with rage when triggered.  Our brave heroes are strong to be sure, but humans still.  Moral injury has no boundaries or resistance in the “suck it up” treatment solution.  We must continue the focus of awareness among the general public, coordinate public and private non-profit partnerships with federal, state, county, and local government to deliver treatment solutions to the communities where veterans readjust to life after war.  The “journey” of moral injury and PTSD treatment is no picnic at the beach.  It is hard work!  And requires a strong support system similar to what war fighters received while in combat theater.  The only way to recreate an adequate and specialized support system during transition back to a healthy and productive civilian existence is in the local communities where veterans return home to life after war.  Otherwise, military suicides will continue to spike.  The sad part is after awhile we will hear less and less about it in the news…

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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