In 2019, 18.8 million men and women were veterans, accounting for about eight percent of the civilian non-institutional population age 18 and over (U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020). A once declining veteran population is now increasing again and is in additional need of mental health treatment to address issues such as posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, substance use disorder, domestic violence, and suicide.
In 2018, suicides among veterans occurred at a rate of 17 each day (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2020). Overall, from 2005 to 2018, the age- and sex-adjusted suicide rates among veterans were higher and rose faster than those among non-veteran U.S. adults, and older veterans face an even greater risk of suicide (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2020). Veterans returning home after multiple deployments are also facing different challenges than those of previous generations.
NASW calls on national leaders to:
- Fund the President's Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS).
- Enhance outreach and support for exiting service members.
- Strengthen the network of community-based partnerships for veterans.
- Expand availability of emergency services for all veterans at Veterans Health Administration (VHA) sites.
- Ensure that veteran status is tracked across all health settings and that veterans and their families receive equitable access to and outcomes of care.