Families Testify Military’s Suicide Prevention Claims Were Hollow, as DoD Funds Yet Another Study

University of Kentucky Study Looks at Effects on the Bereaved

by Valarie Honeycutt Spears
Lexington Herald-Leader, Aug. 19, 2012

In a state where military suicides are a continuing problem, researchers at the University of Kentucky are studying their effects on Kentuckians who have lost a military or veteran family member, friend or fellow service member to suicide.

The two-year study, Suicide Bereavement in Military and Their Families, is funded by a $677,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Military Suicide Research Consortium, said Julie Cerel, the principal investigator and an associate professor in the UK College of Social Work.

Army widow Ashley Joppa-Hagemann says her Ranger husband Jared was facing his 9th deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan before he killed himself near Fort Lewis, Wash. Joppa-Hagemann says the Army ignored obvious signs her husband was struggling with the psychological “invisible” wounds of war. She participated in panel discussion for survivors of military suicides and was featured on PBS‘ news magazine Democracy Now.

During the first six months of 2012, a reported 11 active-duty Army soldiers stationed in Kentucky died by suicide, with a total of 56 since 2009.

Nationally, there have been 154 suicides among active-duty service members during the first half of 2012, representing an 18 percent increase over the 130 suicides for the same period in 2011, Department of Defense spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said.

She said the Department of Defense has made suicide prevention a top priority and asked every leader throughout the chain of command to focus on the issue by creating a climate that supports seeking help “as a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.”

Officials at Fort Campbell, an Army installation on the Kentucky-Tennessee line that is home to the 101st Airborne Division, have been working intensively on the problem since 2009 when the number of suicides there prompted commanders to set aside routine duties for three days to help soldiers at risk of killing themselves.

Suicides have been a problem for veterans too.

Statewide figures were not immediately available, but nationally the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that a veteran takes his or her life once every 80 minutes on average, accounting for some 6,500 suicides a year, or nearly 20 percent of all suicides in the United States, Cerel said.

Read the rest of this story:


Watch testimony from Ashley Joppa-Hagemann about family survivors of military suicide:

State Of The Soldier Forum

Democracy Now


One Response

  1. Is anyone investigating the VA response and practices available for our returning warriors and their families? It is obvious that the labels and drugs & labels given our returning warriors don’t work and only create more dependency for quick fix with meds. Do visit our website to see how we can provide intensive and extensive services for the whole family to improve the quality of lives, health and relationships. http://jerryvestinjuredwarrior.com

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