California Guard veteran fights back against military suicides
By Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Cossel
January 7, 2014
MALIBU, Calif. (Jan. 8, 2014) -- When it comes to veterans committing suicide, Save A Warrior founder Jake Clark minces no words.
"This is a holocaust in slow motion," the former California Army National Guard captain said. "Over the next ten years, the Department of Veteran Affairs estimates more than 150,000 vets will kill themselves."
Clark was referring to a 2013 report released by the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, that estimated 22 veterans take their own life every day. But those numbers don't paint the whole picture, he pointed out, as only 21 states report suicide numbers to the VA.
"Two of the largest states in the nation -- California and Texas -- do not report their suicide numbers," Clark said.
He added that many cases of veterans taking their own lives are not included in the reports the VA receives.
"You've got guys offing themselves via cop-assisted suicide. You've got guys drinking themselves to death, overdosing. There's so much that doesn't get classified as suicide," he said. "The actual numbers aren't even close."
Clark was almost one of those numbers himself. After returning from a deployment to Kosovo, Clark said the things he witnessed there haunted him.
"It started getting really dark in my world," he said. "There was a .45 pistol at the head of my bed. I could always visualize my hand reaching into that drawer. I thought about committing suicide every day for 13 years."
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