According to the National Institute of Mental Health in its publication, “NIH Medline Plus,” America’s war veterans are at a high risk of suicide. The risk is so high, that the suicide rate among our serving military members now surpasses that of the general population.
Reserve and National Guard members are at a high risk. Between 2008 and 2009, there was a 36% increase in suicides among Army Reserve soldiers not on active duty.
Thinning our military forces during a time of war contributes to the combat stress that military members, including those in the National Guard and Reserve, bring home with them. This is increased in great part because we demand more multiple back to back combat deployments.
As Congress begins its consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13), it is imperative that Members and Senators take into account ‘strategy’ over budget driven decisions by the Department of Defense (DOD) in determining appropriate end strength requirements. As a country at war, now is not the time to start thinning our national security force.
Our service members are already being asked to sacrifice precious time with their families, serving multiple (in some cases four or five) tours of duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). The Obama Administration is cutting the military force in the FY13 Budget Request. We are not only reducing our strength, but increasing the time we ask our service members to spend away from their loved ones.
In these tough economic times, it is important we have close inspection of how our money is spent. In doing so, we will undoubtedly find areas in which we can run more efficient and effectively. Trying to cut corners to our national defense, we create more problems for both our service members and our way of life.
Information that is distributed by leaders in the United Arizona Veterans council and other citations tell us that 1 in every 5 military members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD and that overall more than 300,000 service members, or 20 percent of the military members that have deployed in the past six years have PTSD.
At the highest risk are the members of the National Guard and Reserve. All branches of the military, including the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, have deployed members to the ground wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan to make up for shortages or provide support for soldiers and Marines – it is truly an unconventional use of military forces due to a continual down-sizing of the military.
Unlike active duty members, Reserve and National Guard members are together for only 40 some days a year outside of a deployment cycle. They rely on private medical care and don’t have as many trained, watchful eyes on them when they go home. We also know that the effects of PTSD don’t immediately surface – it starts sometime after 90 days of being back home.
Not only must we provide excellent mental health and other services to both our active duty and reserve forces, we need to keep our military personnel numbers up as long as we are at war, not decrease them. The decreases are causing more back to back deployments and stresses that those who serve will carry with them for a lifetime.
As a Veteran, as someone who is running for Congress, I am standing up for these military members and their families to make sure we take the steps that keeps them from an early grave.
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About Doug Wade
Doug Wade is a Republican Candidate for U.S. Representative in Arizona Congressional District 1. He has lived in the District more than 25 years. He is the father of two grown daughters. He and his wife, Grazina, operate a construction firm based in Sedona, Arizona. He has been active in the Yavapai County Republican Party. To learn more about Doug Wade, visit www.wadeforcongress2012.com .
PAID FOR BY WADE FOR CONGRESS 2012