YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – In the Department of Defense’s Quarterly Suicide Report, it reported military suicide rates were up 25% in the last quarter of 2020.
Places like the Youngstown Veteran’s Affairs Clinic and the American Legion in Poland offer services to veterans to assist with mental health and financial burdens.
Roderick Hosler is the commander of American Legion Post 15 and commissioner on the Mahoning County Veterans Service Commission.
“The numbers that have been talked about have been 22 veterans daily are committing suicide. Striking numbers, when you consider the population of the veterans within the United States is decreasing. The numbers of suicides have not decreased,” he said.
But Hosler says this is not a true number because most people associate veteran suicides with PTSD, when in reality, the large numbers of suicides are a result of personal issues including divorce, drug or alcohol abuse or economic problems.
“Certainly we’ve seen an upswing in the number of veterans that are continuing in looking for assistance because their job has been either eliminated or their business has curtailed its operations or closed,” Hosler said. “Any veteran suicide is tragic. When the numbers start looking that great, we really get concerned. You know, what can the community do to support the veteran that is having issues.”
He says veterans can receive their services after showing proof that they’re a veteran. They can show the DD Form 214 which is their certificate of release or discharge that is issued through the Department of Defense.
Some of the financial services offered by the American Legion and Mahoning County Veterans Service Commission include utility and burial services, disability compensation and home loan benefits.
The Mahoning County Veterans Service Commission is one of 88 in the state of Ohio. They have seven service officers that aid in connecting veterans, widows, and their families with federal, state, and local benefits.
“Certainly, the V.A. is looking at how we can treat the veteran once he comes back into a civilian environment, you know, what can we do to make his life better? How can we ensure that he will not be a potential suicide victim?” Hosler said.
If you are a veteran struggling with thoughts of suicide, the veteran’s crisis number is 1-800-273-8255.
For any veteran interested in obtaining mental health services from the Youngstown VA Clinic, they can be reached at 330-740-9200 and the Mahoning County Veterans Service Commission can be reached at 330-740-9200.