You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Study: Mental woes for 37% of VA-treated vets

Jul. 16, 2009 - 06:26PM   |   Last Updated: Jul. 16, 2009 - 06:26PM  |  
  • Filed Under

WASHINGTON Suicides reported among soldiers have tapered off from extreme highs of early this year amid intense Army efforts to stem the deaths, but officials are not yet ready to say they have turned a corner on the problem.

  • Please enable JavaScript for your browser in order to use
Want to read more?
Current Subscribers
Access to Army Times Prime is free for current Army Times subscribers.
Log in
Haven't registered online?
Activate Account
New Subscribers
Start your subscription to Army Times Prime for as little as 59¢ a week!

WASHINGTON Suicides reported among soldiers have tapered off from extreme highs of early this year amid intense Army efforts to stem the deaths, but officials are not yet ready to say they have turned a corner on the problem.

Army leadership said Thursday they hope a newly launched mental health study will help identify what is causing the self-inflicted deaths and what programs are best for preventing them.

Separately Thursday, other researchers reported that 37 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking care at Veterans Affairs clinics for the first time are being diagnosed with mental health disorders.

That is higher than some other estimates of the conflicts' toll, and researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center said that may be because people still in the military are more reluctant to seek care.

At the Pentagon, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said suicides reported among Army soldiers in the last four and a half months totaled 51, compared to 41 in the first two months of the year alone.

"We are not pleased, but we feel better about our efforts in the last four and a half months to at least reduce the number," he said.

Among recently boosted efforts to decrease the tragic deaths, the Army held special training in February and March for unit leaders and a top-down training throughout service ranks after that.

But officials acknowledged they can't explain the suicide decrease of recent months.

"We are not here to tell you we think we've turned the corner next month could be another tragic month," Army Secretary Pet Geren said at a news conference with Chiarelli.

"We are doing everything we know to do." he said, adding it's not clear which of a myriad of Army programs may be helping, or even if any are helping.

Geren and Chiarelli appeared with National Institute of Mental Health Director Thomas R. Insel to announce a team of four research institutions would carry out what they said would be the largest study of suicide and mental health ever undertaken.

The $50 million study is to include some 500,000 soldiers and likely some troops from the Marine Corps and will be done by researchers at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, University of Michigan, Harvard Medical School and Columbia University.

The Army and Marines are doing most of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and suicide rates have spiked in both services in recent years.

Associated Press writer Sagar Meghani and AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

CrossFit vs. unit PT
Troops will do the training plans in a $2.5 million study

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook