Study suggests veteran suicide rate is higher than reported

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A new study suggests that the suicide rate among veterans may be higher than US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reports indicate.

The study out America’s Warrior Partnership working with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the University of Alabama, found that the nationwide suicide rate of veterans was 24 per day, compared to what the VA reports as 17.

“We counted 24 per day if it was a national stat, while the VA counted 17, so there’s already an undercount,” said Darrell Owens, director of government relations at America’s Warrior Partnership.

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The study, Operation Deep Dive looked at eight states and DOD data.

“I think right now with Operation Deep Dive with America’s Warrior Partnership, we’ve realized the scale of the problem is significant, it’s something the VA cannot grasp. They refuse to look at the depths of how big it is, including the overdose epidemic, and how that’s affecting veterans,” Owens said.

He also said the undercount is due to overdoses affecting veterans: “The VA suicide report that they have doesn’t list the overdose as part of the problem.”

A local veteran, Kevin Bittenbender, said he agrees, adding, “To maybe get life insurance benefits, some of those lifetime benefits won’t be paid to my family if it’s a suicide and they’re like, ‘Hey, listen OK, I’m going to make it look like an accident.'”

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Allegheny State Senator Devlin Robinson said any number is too high and several organizations in the midstate are here to help.

If you’re feeling helpless, the suicide hotline number is 988. Study suggests veteran suicide rate is higher than reported

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