Over 1,892 Veterans killed themselves so far this year.
"WASHINGTON — Volunteers in dark green hooded sweatshirts spread out across the National Mall on Thursday, planting 1,892 small American flags in the grass between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. Each flag represented a veteran who had committed suicide since Jan. 1, a figure that amounts to 22 deaths each day.
Civilians stood among the waving flags in solidarity with veterans like Michael Blazer, a former sergeant in the Army who had a friend commit suicide when he got back from Afghanistan.
“He shot himself in the same room as me and a friend of mine,” Mr. Blazer said. “I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD because of that, so a lot of these issues are what I’ve personally been dealing with. But above and beyond, I’m out here in memory of him.”
The event was part of an awareness campaign mounted by members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group focused on issues affecting the nation’s newest veterans. They are in Washington this week as part of their leadership development program, Storm the Hill, and to support the introduction of legislation aimed at preventing suicides and providing more mental health resources for service members home from combat.
Event organizers said that the issues were a top priority for veterans and their families, and that they wanted to make them a priority for Congress, too.
Senator John Walsh, Democrat of Montana and the first Iraq war veteran to serve in the Senate, introduced the Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act on Thursday. For Mr. Walsh, the issue is personal: A sergeant who served under him when he commanded an infantry battalion in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 committed suicide after returning home.
“We’ve waited too long to take on this action,” he said. Then, mentioning the 22 veterans who take their lives every day, he added, “That’s an epidemic that we cannot allow to continue.”
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Using Flags to Focus on Veteran Suicides - NYTimes.com http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/28/us/using-flags-to-focus-on-veteran-suicides.html