The Defense Department reported a significant uptick last year in the number of active-duty and reserve men and women who died by suicide.
The suicide rate among veterans ages 18 to 34, some of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan, shot up dramatically from 2015 to 2016, data show.
Top officials from the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, joined by specialists from across the private sector, gathered this week to search for solutions to what has become one of the most persistent, painful and frustrating crises facing the military community. Although the nation has grappled with veteran suicides for more than a century — officials note that some of the first academic research on the issue appeared in 1915 — many of the core challenges remain.
Trump administration officials say a key factor is a reservation about addressing mental health care.
“There’s been a stigma throughout the history of our country that I still think you see manifestations of today,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie told The Washington Times in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the conference, a biannual gathering co-hosted by the VA and the Pentagon.