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.