Statistics estimate 620 U.S. veterans to lose life to suicide

Statistics estimate 620 U.S. veterans to lose life to suicide

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Memorial Day is a day to honor those who lost their lives in battle away at war or during their service in the U.S. military.

For this year's Memorial Day, the American Legion Sylvania post honored the veterans who lost their lives fighting another battle while at home by a display of white flags.

Suicide is a prevalent problem among service men and women. According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. loses 20 veterans a day to suicide. That statistic means there will be a total of 620 deaths by the end of May.

"Compared to the general population suicide rate, it's almost three times as high within the veteran community," said Post Commander of American legion post 468 Joe Cafferty.

A veteran himself, Cafferty is also a social worker for the VA. He sees the gap first hand that can form between  a good soldier and a healthy human being.

"In the military you're trained to suck it up and go on with the mission, and if you show any sign of weakness whether physical or mental. You're very quickly labeled the weak link. So they tend to put their needs on the back burner and unfortunately sometimes they wait too long," said Cafferty.

Since May is Mental Health Awareness month, white flags have been displayed in front of the American Legion Sylvania post since the first. On Memorial Day, the flags have an even more special meaning.

"What's on most people's minds are the men and women who died in active service of their country. But there's those 20 a day who are forgotten, that are completing suicide as a result of their service."

The display is meant to be a visual reminder, of a problem that often goes unseen.

If you are a veteran or know one who is struggling, you're encouraged to call the Veteran Crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 to be linked to a mental health professional.

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