Terry Sharpe is planning his May 2019 Walk to raise awareness of the current Veteran suicide rate, which stands at 22 per day — the equivalent of one Veteran committing suicide every 65 minutes. In addition Terry hopes to bring attention to Veteran Hunger and Veteran Homelessness. Terry at age 68, will walk from Summerfield, NC to Washington, DC to bring attention to this terrible plight. That is a trip of 300 miles, some very hard miles, but Terry wants to bring attention to the Veteran’s Issues. This will be the 6th year for Terry making his walk, and his 7th 300 mile walk (he did two in one year). Terry will be joined by Ken and Sherry Wilson who are parents of one of the 22. Terry will also be joined by Veterans and other supporters along the way.
6,500 former military personnel killed themselves in 2012. More Veterans succumbed to suicide than were killed in Iraq. In 2012, 177 active-duty soldiers committed suicide, conversely 176 soldiers were killed in combat. In other words, more soldiers committed suicide compared to being killed in action. In 2012, the study concluded that Army had the highest number of suicides compared to any other service branch. In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 Veterans were committing suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes. This number has not changed and it is believed by some that due to under-reporting it can be as high as 27 per day.
More than 69% of all Veteran suicides were among those 50 and older. Mental-health professionals said one reason could be that these men give up on life after their children are out of the house or a longtime marriage falls apart. Even though more older Veterans are committing suicide, it’s difficult to predict what the toll of America’s newest wars will be. A survey by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America showed that 30% of service members have considered taking their own life, and 45% said they know an Iraq or Afghanistan Veteran who has attempted suicide.
Coming home from war, a six-month deployment on a ship, or simply transitioning from a life in uniform to a life without one, can be difficult and the various state and federal systems set up to deal with this transition and life after military services are unable to meet the need. The challenges of adjustment and transition, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, and physical disabilities, all need to be addressed especially as these things result in barriers to education, employment, health care, and overall individual well-being. Many of these needs are being met by a combination of different Veteran-serving nonprofits and VA support. Unfortunately, there are still gaps in the system.
To help support Terry in his efforts, please share links to the website, share the discussion, and keep coming back to stay updated on the progress of this walk.