Female Veteran Suicide Rates ‘Staggering’

Vetreans Suicide Rate

Benjamin KrauseLA Times just released a report about female veterans’ suicide rates — female veterans commit suicide at a staggering six times the rate of civilian women. And what is our government doing about it?

A back injury forced female veteran Sara Leatherman to leave the military in 2009. Her PTSD led her to hang herself in 2010 from a shower. That shower belonged to hear grandmother. She was just 24 years old.

The startling finding about women suicides raises disappointing stereotypes from traditional media repeaters like LA Times. In their assessment, they mention the high rates raise questions about “backgrounds” and “experiences” of women serving in the armed forces.

The problem here deals solely with acknowledgment with problems related to the military experience and shortfalls with Veteran Affairs in helping female veterans work through the experience. Mainstream media seems all too ready to point the finger where the blame does not fall.

While I have no doubt our military falls short in working with women, especially when sexually assaulted, the bigger deficit lies within the Department of Veterans Affairs persistent refusal to step up to the responsibility of providing comprehensive and beneficial medical treatment to female veterans.

Here is an excerpt of the LA Times article, but I strongly suggest reading the entire piece and providing your feedback here. Why are female veteran suicides on the rise? What can be done to stem the trend?

Though suicide has become a major issue for the military over the last decade, most research by the Pentagon and the Veterans Affairs Department has focused on men, who account for more than 90% of the nation’s 22 million former troops. Little has been known about female veteran suicide.

The rates are highest among young veterans, the VA found in new research compiling 11 years of data. For women ages 18 to 29, veterans kill themselves at nearly 12 times the rate of nonveterans.

In every other age group, including women who served as far back as the 1950s, the veteran rates are between four and eight times higher, indicating that the causes extend far beyond the psychological effects of the recent wars.

The data include all 173,969 adult suicides — men and women, veterans and nonveterans — in 23 states between 2000 and 2010.

It is not clear what is driving the rates. VA researchers and experts who reviewed the data for The Times said there were myriad possibilities, including whether the military had disproportionately drawn women at higher suicide risk and whether sexual assault and other traumatic experiences while serving played a role.

Source: https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-female-veteran-suicide-20150608-story.html#page=1

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  1. I’ve gone through 47 surgeries and know what a life of pain is. I’ve considered the same solution when the VA in their wisdom tells me to go home and take an advil. Pain management is the most ignored disability of veterans and it will drive you to suicide. Seeing some of the horrendous wounds of some of our OIF vets and their survival rate this is probably what this is all about,

  2. There was a lot of raw data in this article, but it raises as many questions as it answers. The first thing I would like to point out is that the suicide rate for ALL veterans is appallingly high.

    The first big question is that the article (as well as the speculation in this discussion) deals with causation. Why are women killing themselves? Is it because of sexual abuse or because of the same PTSD issues plaguing male veterans? Cherry-picking anecdotal evidence does a disservice to all veterans, and generalizations that the VA has used for years can often be traced to isolated cases. I was reading one of Ben’s articles a couple of weeks ago regarding how few veterans exaggerate our symptoms, but it’s still a priority for the VA to identify “malingerers.”

    The natural group to conduct a study on the high rate of veteran suicide would be the VA itself, but this would raise other issues. Let’s face it; the VA doesn’t have much credibility with many of us. A reputable academic institution needs to conduct a study on this.

  3. I am APALLED to see male veterans from former eras gender discriminate against women in the military. Thank goodness youre on the outside looking in and not impacting the lives of women warriors (or hopefully any other women). Its a womans fault when a sick serial predator rapes her. Its a woman fault that the incredulous VA establishment is derelict in their duty to collect data and transform. You sound like a bunch of irresponsible cowards who obfuscate responsibility to suit your narrow minds. Youre an EMBARRASSMENT to the veteran establishment. Why dont you stick to drinking beers and scratch off lottery tickets at your misogynistic fraternal posts and skip the internet … mass communicating your ignorance is unbecoming. Thank you Mr Krause for including us and keeping watch. We are getting fed up with the rhetoric. How the LA Times missed this one is beyond me. I spent three days in a coma in 2008 due to the derelict medical practitioners at the VA who treated me like subhuman after I needed treatment due to being raped by and old school NCO who kindly continued to serve and rape as a DOD Civilian. BARBARIC. Fault me after honorably stepping up to the plate while lesser Americans couldnt be bothered to serve? I DONT THINK SO GENTLEMEN. Greatest fighting force the earth has ever seen? Live up to it!

    1. To CA Bushnell, I believe you have mistaken our words. We don’t mind women in the military, we just believe women should not be in “Combat Situations”! It is from this perspective, I and others, speak about.
      Historically, women have played a large part in the military. They have done so much to help men (from mental disorders to loss of limbs)! Only putting them in “Combat Situations” has been a dismal falure. Not only has this been proven historically, (ex; men feel they must protect, thereby not giving 100% to the task at hand).
      The military has and will continue to use women, and that’s a VERY good thing. Yet putting women “in harms way” should not be done!
      Here is the kicker on this, in today’s warfare, men and women share equal billing. There is NO “DMZ” (demilitarized zone), there’s no “behind the lines”, everyone is at risk! I wish there was a way to keep all of the military personnel safe….
      As far as “RAPE” in the military, it does happen. I wish it didn’t. But it does. When I was in Uniform, I did my best to defend all who were subjected to any form of “sexual deviancy”. When I was at a military base (early 80’s), I arrested a person who had raped and murdered a woman. It took approximately three weeks to catch, try and convict that individual. (The night I made the arrest, he fell down numerous times)!!!!
      So, you see, I’m not against women serving in the military. I just feel there are jobs which they should be in that supports the rest of the military.
      But since they wish to play a stronger roll, I wish most would understand the true nature of what it means to be in a “combat situation”.
      I’m going to end by saying the following statement made by both men and women when the first Gulf War began, “I didn’t join the military to go to war. I joined to get an education”. No matter which branch a person joins, at the beginning of their “handbook”, it states, “I am an American Fighting Man”. This is the same book that contains the U.C.M.J. (Uniform Code of Military Justice). This “statement” was made by many, and was reported through the news media multiple times! So if you wish to be “on the front lines”, please be aware of the dangers it entails. Not only before, during and after!!!!!!!
      U.S.Army 1966-69) Vietnam Veteran (1967-69 “tour of duty”.
      U.S.Navy (1975-82) “Operation Fluid Drive” 20 June 1976. The evacuation of civilians being held captive at the Beirut, Lebanon Airport.

      1. @Crazyself how appropriate, last time i check Male Vets alike were dealing with Suicide also not only women in combat situations so being male or female dont have a dam thing to do with it cause the EFFECT is still the same SUICIDE!!!!!

      2. And that was exactly what I was eluding to Mark. Men AND women, in today’s military should be aware of the consequences of joining the military! Yes, it is true BOTH sexes are dealing with suicide. I’m just trying to state facts as I see them. Most men and women, even as far back in recorded history, had not become aware of what happens during and then after an actual “Ground Battle” between troops. I know this first hand Mark.
        I myself had thoughts, but I would NOT, and will NOT give the VA that satisfaction….. The scum that works for the VA don’t have a clue to what veterans go through… that in itself is the mentality of the VA. That could be why they don’t care. Because most have NEVER experienced warfare!!!! Even McDonald, by his own admission, has never experienced warfare. So, how is he qualified to oversee the VA?

  4. Our prayers go out to Sara’s family. What do veterans do with the anger and frustration directly related to the VA’s seemingly intentional destroying of our lives? So many vets deserving of help, get only grief. I am still reliving a war every day. The VA has and is refueling the pain, at every corner. When do we say ENOUGH? Killing myself is not an answer foe me. God Bless the Veterans, everywhere.

  5. I hope all of you, who led the “equality” parade demanding women be put in combat roles, are shocked and horrified at this outcome of your social engineering experiment. Those of us dinosaurs from the Vietnam war knew it was a bad idea, but like electing Obama, the symbol was more important than the facts. Whether it will prove to be a good or bad thing was not important. It was just time (said the liberals, the progressives) for a black President and it was just time for women in combat. Both unquestionably bad decisions, one by voters and the other by the President himself. Both the product of progressives’ agenda, the welfare of this country be damned.

    1. You are so damn correct. Liberals are destroying this country and most of them can’t see the trees in the forest.
      Look up the following ‘story’ out of El Paso, Texas. It’s on “The DC Clothes Line” website. The story is called “ISIS Troops Are Penetrating the U.S. Border and Are Engaging Any Who Oppose Them”.
      Hope you all find this interesting, I sure did!

      1. Typical Backwoods over 60 Unread, Uneducated, gets the MAJORITY of their information from what someone tells them how to think Rethuglicans. Lets go back in time since were talking about the subject of bad decisions ok. Who sent you retardo to Nam was it a White President or Whom? Secondly what was actually accomplished during that massacre? Besides more Corporate Wealth Generated in the fake illusion of free-dum or we against them. Now retardo women have been invovled in many corporate wars and have suffered like most men with ptsd or mst was it a good idea maybe that wasnt yr choice. Speaking about the election of a Black President whom inherited all that Garbage Shit that the Great Almighty Whiteman Bushit started so if anyone had got Selected other than another Bush would have Inherited the same BULLSHIT one way or another…

  6. The special millions of dollars in funds for the “Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act” were recently brazenly stolen by the VA, to be used instead for “more important things” according to the VA, before one penny could be used to stop veteran suicides. A perfect analogy can be reduced down to one VA nurse conspiring with the visiting VA Secretary at the hospital telling her to cut off life support to a veteran in intensive care, doing so because they can find “more important ways to spend money”, compared to things like bottled oxygen, and the cost of staffing to care from someone in a coma. These suicides are criminal negligence!

    1. Mr. Wallace, do you think the money was used to pay out bonuses to VA higher-ups? If so, and it could be proven, what could be done? I had read that McDonald had tried to divert the $$$’s from the “Veterans Choice Program”, but was unsuccessful?! Also, have you heard anything concerning how the VA will fund the Aurora VA? I heard it was going to be done by taking the allocations from all the other VA construction projects! If this be true, then many won’t open as planned.
      I also had read a ‘story’ about the Los Vegas VA where they had “color changing walls” and other amenities. Which cost the taxpayers millions of dollars, and they still want MORE! There are more ‘stories’ out there, only I feel this is just repeating myself!!!!!
      Thanks, a Vietnam Veteran and Proud American

  7. We all know the veteran suicide rate is high, and in fact much higher than the VA lets on. One thing that would help is if the Pentagon’s would stop using military hypnotist Chuck Mulligan and others like him.

    Years ago I found official VERY SINISTER military hypnosis videos from the internet and sent them to Senator McCain, to my former direct superior in the Marines Allan Kellogg Medal of Honor winner who is now a prominent figure at the VA, Congressman Doug LaMalfa, and others.

    These videos show: up to a dozen or more, even hundreds watching from the audience who are also hypnotized, as troops in uniform are hypnotized for the claimed purpose of safety training, or entertainment.

    Very disciplined Female troops have to be stopped at the last second from taking their combat uniform (brown t-shirt) clothes completely off. Pilots lay there in obvious painful positions of complete paralysis, others fall from their chairs obviously injuring themselves, and do all sorts of things that most so-called experts say no one would ever do.

    What led me to TRY to expose this was the videos that show troops in deep hypnosis who believe they are killing their fellow troops then committing suicide!

    After I fought this murder by suicide program for about two years, some of the worst videos were finally removed from the internet, but they may be back. If anyone goes looking for them and manages to find them I STRONGLY CAUTION you to not view them alone, AND have a foolproof plan in place to keep you from acting out what you see. The real purpose, done in conjunction with the military and the VA, is to get not just the troops in the videos to actually commit suicide, but to kill off any troops or vets who sees the video.

    I don’t want to give specifics because it might have the opposite effect and cause harm. But, from my personal experience with this being done on me and others I saw it done to, some of the methods are far worse than the videos the military would ever release. Because no veterans save for a few in certain reserve units has access to grenades, I will give this one example. A SEAL who was part of our unit used a grenade on himself.

    To this day I struggle with what the best and MOST evil military experts did to me, that was supposedly done in the name of national security. Just writing about it here messes me up real bad. The bottom line is the VA loves this program, and that is really where it comes from.

    When I have tried to talk about it in PTSD therapy the VA comes down on me like Hell. It’s their program and they are not going to let go of it. It is a real money maker for them. Bonuses are still being paid behind the scenes at the VA for screwing over veterans on their claims and earned benefits.

    Special bonuses are paid for herding us into jail or getting us killed off by any means possible, and specifically for contract killing murder by suicide. Whether a veteran suicide was caused by a post-hypnotic suggestion from military or VA hypnosis, or due to some other reason, the VA in secret does everything it can to kill off as many of us as they possibly can. Openly they pretend otherwise, but in truth, they are thrilled, even when they do it to female veterans.

    The VA has become a gigantic real-life ‘Prisoners and Guards’ deadly mind game. But, unlike that famous psych experiment from the 1960’s, the ‘VA Murder by Suicide Program’ involves several real fatalities every single day of the year.

    “The brainwashed do not know that they are brainwashed”; this includes not just the VA’s suicide victims, but the brainwashed VA staff who gladly do this to us and our female vets.

    Finally, to show how closely the VA and military work together on programs like this, the military subjected me to suicide programming during mission debriefings. Upon discharge from the service the Pentagon sent a letter to the VA that was supposed to go to me for my signature first.

    Senator McCain finally got that letter for me about two years ago, after the VA intercepted it and hid it from me for many years. It states that I was “100% service-connected disabled for VA purposes” at the time of discharge, but the VA concealed it for years while I filed time and time again for service-connected disability! The VA is a hopelessly sick institution.

    Do something right now, even the smallest thing, to offset any feelings of depression or self-destruction, because the VA is not going to do that for you. Any vet out there who reads this, Thank You For Your Service, you deserve those thanks and much more!

  8. I think the va does not care about any veteran male or female, the way they act towards veterans as if the veterans are a burden. If you have ptsd and it act’s up and you go to the va and are upset and they don’t like what you are saying, could be misunderstood and the va put you on the disruptive list and make your life a living hell, they put more pressure on the veterans and it takes their self-esteem away and makes you wonder is there any place i can go for treatment with out having to worry if the va is going to attack you for having problems and they punished the veterans with out having to provide any proof that you in fact ever disruptive. They need to stop hurting people with this tool they use to control them and punish them for having ptsd. The va did this to me and when asked for the proof they used they refuse to provide it. They let the person who made the allegation answer the congressional inquiry themselves, that employee would make you out to be Charlie Manson and the higher up let them do it with out having to provide proof that the veteran in fact was even disruptive in the first place. This happened to me and I’m sure they wish i would kill myself, I would not even give them the satisfaction

    1. James, the VA has an outright money-making conspiracy going with their Disruptive Behavior Committee. They use their doctors, VA cops, and all VA staff, with oversight all the way up to the Secretary of the VA, to run a huge program where they deliberately provoke veterans then whether you respond or not they put you on the Disruptive Behavior List so VA cops will stalk you everywhere you go, along with civilian cops who they work with when you are not on VA property. If you have a pending service-connected medical claim that is ready for decision, and the VA knows their own doctors approved you, the VA will do anything to keep you from ever being around to receive it. They have harassed my family relentlessly, arrested my son, my wife and me, using VA cops and civilian cops both. My congressman tried to do something about it but gave up even though they learned this Disruptive Behavior List game is being used all around our district to arrest and jail vets. If you are in jail your benefits stop, and they know that, which is why they do it, plus the special funding they get for the Disruptive Behavior program itself. If they got funding for happy, friendly and successful, healthful vets they would have a list for that, but all these brainwashed creeps can handle is evil mind games to stir up trouble for us for their fun and profit.

  9. This article by the LA Times should have sparked a larger amount of comments. At least that’s my opinion. Women have played a large part in our military, since its inception. They have had egregious care at the VA. I’ve personally witnessed some of it.
    I do believe it’s time to do something about it..

  10. Of 20 years ,going with and than taking my husband to the Mpls VA,I hardly ever saw a woman. I was always asking myself, if they had a different VA for them.The only woman at the VA who stuck me as odd ,getting her treatment at the VA ,was the mother of my husbands oncologist.Dr Shorer,out of the U of M

  11. I’m of similar thought “…the bigger deficit lies within the Department of Veterans Affairs persistent refusal to step up to the responsibility of providing comprehensive and beneficial medical treatment to female veterans”. I say this as a woman veteran who has had to step up, lots of advocating for myself, just to get the same services a male veteran can get, whether mental health, medical, orthotic, etc., not to mention the lack of respect I’ve come up on. Oh heck, I had a doctor mock me because I had my husband accompany me. That was humiliating, as much as the doctor may have thought it was funny. I am not a newer vet, nor new to VHA services, but very little has changed since the first time I stepped into their clinic. I had a nurse tell me why don’t I just go to civilian care when there was this big push to keep me out of a consult for neuropathy. They were very busy, she said, but no, they were not when I finally was able to attend to an appointment, after having to persist. In fact, the nurse in that dept., out loud, said to another vet in the waiting room to make sure and make his appointments, especially on Thursdays, when appointments are close to none. No, I will not give up my eligibility for VA care, although I feel the anxiety welling up as I near the place where it is obvious I am not welcome, not to mention all the other triggers I find there. I have no idea if they even know what they are doing, adding patients, not enough providers, apparently. I can weigh the difference in how I, as a woman vet, can be so easily thrown to the side because I have male vets in my family that are seen at the same facility with no issues. So, the trick seems to be if they can get rid…

  12. It’s only by the grace of God I have managed not to harm myself. The family law system is a significant stressor considering they steal veterans’ benefits under the guise “in the best interest of the children”. Being a survivor of military sexual assault and domestic violence further compounds the problem when the co-parent is a military retiree and is capable of gainful employment and refuses to work.

    1. Melissa, I hear your pain and I have been working years to help. protectveteranbenefts group and community page are dedicated to helping. Just so you know, we have the law on our side, they have been using the ignorance of it to abuse you. We can help you bitch lap the hell out of them. Just in case I sound like some stupid spam ad, let me tell you, we are just a bunch of vets doing this for free.

      Also, I’m actually very pissed off that this article says that the reason has not been identified. YES IT HAS!! It is the abuse of veterans in the family law courts. Both the suicide studies and ten years of homeless vet studies say the same thing.

  13. I would also like to add, when the Continental Congress was signing the Declaration of Independence, Dr. Franklin stated; “If we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately.” They were committing treason, under English Law! These men were willing to give all, we were willing to die for this country so people could live free. Do we deserve to be treated in the manner which had prevailed for decades? How much longer do we have to endure these atrocities by a government agency that cares little to nothing for what we endured to keep them free?
    I, and many others, have been fighting the VA for many years. And we do not see any change in their attitudes.

  14. It is never going to change. Unless we veterans and civilian taxpayers exercise our rights under the Constitution of the United States. It’s time for all good Americans to stand up and say, “ENOUGH is ENOUGH”!
    I’m not calling for violence, I’m calling for a multi million man and women march on Washington D.C.,
    Maybe then someone will listen….We have to not be afraid of anything, because we have “right on our side”!
    In my opinion, this has gone on for way to long!
    There are many examples in history which proves my point!

    1. Women in general are viewed as being a hysterical or emotional female.and the military top brass think the same way. It is time for a march and ENOUGH is Enough. 22 vets a day is unacceptable.No one who goes to fight for the rest of us should be abused abused and more abused., only to commit suicide because they aren’t getting the right care. Somebody is benefiting off of the vet who takes her/his own life and that’s downright evil.
      I sure wish we could recall anyone who doesn’t do their job for our soldiers

  15. “It is not clear what is driving the rates.”

    1. C&P failure; same senior executives left in place, never rotated or fired as the number of denied claims are kick into Notice of Disagreement. The veteran may wait decades before their claim is resolved. For example:

    My numbers obtained from – Google: Detailed Claims Data – Veterans Benefits Administration

    As of January 6, 2014; cases in Appeal: 267,002
    As of January 5, 2015; cases in Appeal: 282,130
    As of June 8, 2015; cases in Appeal: 299,021

    2. PTSD diagnoses: One the 5th floor of the Indianapolis Richard L. Roudebush VAMC I was told, by a GS-13 (PSY D) PTSD no longer existed. It was replaced with Anxiety Disorder (AD). It, AD, is on equal footing with Eating Disorder and Sexual Trauma.

    When I read the VA’s electronic ‘Notes’, their doctor was recording stuff I had not completed, “Veteran completed trauma narrative …”

    I did not complete their trauma narrative.

    I think VA employees are under tremendous pressure to MAKE THINGS UP.

    3. VA Psycho staff overworked, for example:

    A relative moved from the mid-west to the West coast. She had years of experience and the medical degrees to back up her request for VA Psychotherapy employment. VA offer employment and she demanded an interview.

    Being interviewed she asked, “How many patients will be assigned to me?”

    When told the number of veterans assigned she got up and walked out.

    She said, “It would be impossible for one person to help that many veterans.”

    Her employment interview took place in 2014.

    1. Agent Orange, I would get a copy of the MMPI (Minnesots Multiphasic Personality Index) a Psychology 101 tool needed in diagnosing. The DSMV revisions should be explained to patients and the necessary criteria to justify the change in your case. Here is a landmark case study that could be used for reference in the VA standard of care if your doctor is not following guidelines or has been trained in your particular case. TBI and other conditions could be contextual factors. https://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/local/2014/09/16/psychologist-barred-evaluating-traumatic-brain-injuries/15742645/

  16. PTSD and VA refusal to care for disablities and injuries of service-connected vets aren’t the only reasons why vets take their own lives – being ordered to share their solely earned military retired pay (note – NOT a “pension” ! ) with a former spouse also has caused retiree suicides !

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