Every three days, an Oregon veteran commits suicide. The problem has reached critical mass, prompting the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and Governor Kate Brown to make veteran suicide prevention a top priority.
The V.A. recognizes the problem. Veterans are at high risk for suicide for unique reasons which include post-traumatic stress disorder, modern combat situations and transitioning from military to civilian life. Vets also face barriers in asking for help due to a “soldier culture” that stigmatizes weakness. Kelly Fitzpatrick is the newly appointed director of the Oregon V.A. and a retired Army Major.
“We’re very other focused as military service members and veterans and it’s because we’re proud, we’re strong, we’re there for our battle buddies,” Fitzgerald says. “But sometimes we just can’t take care of ourselves because we don’t’ want to admit to any kind of a weakness.”
Fitzgerald says reaching out for help is an act of courage and strength. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-TALK. Veterans press 1 to speak to a fellow vet.
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In Oregon, veterans commit suicide at a rate that is significantly higher than the state’s general suicide rate. Every three days, an Oregon veteran takes his or her own life.
Kelly Fitzpatrick is Governor Kate Brown’s recent nominee for the position of director of the Oregon Department of Veteran’s Affairs. She is a retired Army Major. I asked Fitzpatrick, a veteran herself, if she had any sense of *why so many Oregon veterans are choosing to take their own lives?