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WTVM Editorial 10/26/21: Fight for Mental Health Treatment

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 1:20 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Suicide among our military is always alarming and despite the many efforts to bring down the numbers, not much positive change is happening.

To put the numbers in perspective, about 7,000 soldiers have died in combat since 9/11 - 20 years ago. But more than 30,000 soldiers committed suicide in that same time frame.

There are many suspected causes, among them post-traumatic stress syndrome that can result in maladjustment back to civilian life.

Other suspected factors are family stress and depression from divorce or economic pressures.

Military suicides are much studied and the various causes debated.

But what really needs to change is to stop the stigma and shame surrounding mental illness.

Everyone knows our military heroes make major sacrifices in serving our country.

They are rightly perceived as having enormous strength of character.

But that quality can and often does co-exist with mental illness like depression.

And since the strong soldier values his self-sacrifice, it can be hard to admit he also needs mental health care.

In our area, one in every three people are either active duty, a veteran or a family member of a soldier.

That’s why it’s important for us to understand and openly discuss that seeking mental health treatment is perfectly acceptable and often necessary for our bravest heroes.

Effective therapies do exist and are widely available.

That not enough soldiers get that help compounds the tragedy of military suicides.

So we must work to remove the stigma of mental illness and openly encourage seeking help for it.

When we can do that, more soldiers will finally get the medical treatment they deserve.

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