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Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Suicide epidemic and cover-up

We've discussed U.S. military suicides before, but yesterday in a San Francisco court some startling information emerged in a suit against the Veterans Administration:
[The lawyer for the veterans] showed the judge two e-mails written last year among high-ranking officials that said an average of 18 military veterans kill themselves each day — and five of them are under VA care when they commit suicide. Another e-mail said 1,000 veterans under VA care attempt suicide each month.
18/day = 6570/year, more each year than military personnel who have been killed in Iraq in more than five years. 1825 of those were actually committed while under VA care.

Editor and Publisher's Greg Mitchell has more on the scandalous nature of the attempted coverup of this epidemic:

Yesterday, in federal court In San Francisco, attorneys for veterans' groups accused the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs of a shocking cover-up in lying about the epidemic of suicides among veterans. Internal emails written by Dr. Ira Katz, the VA's head of Mental Health, seem to bear this out.

"There is no epidemic in suicide in VA," Katz told CBS last November. He had informed CBS that there were only 790 suicide attempts for all of 2007. And he attacked CBS numbers that suggested otherwise.

But in a February 2008 e-mail to his top media adviser, Katz wrote: "Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our medical facilities." CBS notes today, "it appears that Katz went out of his way to conceal these numbers."

How's this: Katz titled his e-mail: "Not for the CBS News Interview Request" and opened it with "Shh!" Beautiful.

The e-mail ended: "Is this something we should (carefully) address...before someone stumbles on it?"
By the way, not all of those suicides are by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan; many of them are by veterans of Vietnam as well. The costs of war, both in money and lives, persist long after the war itself (and of course that's true for the people of the country where the war was fought just as much as the country from which the soldiers came from).

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