Let’s address critical issues such as suicide risk, trauma, and homelessness that impact members of the military with behavioral health conditions.
The suicide rate among male and female veterans and military service members exceeds the national rate for the general population. Veterans comprise 20% of national suicides, with approximately 22 veterans dying by suicide every day. Three out of five veterans who died by suicide were diagnosed as having a mental health condition.
Military service members, veterans, and their families are a growing community exposed to traumatic events. Involvement in combat that causes losses and fears; injuries associated with combat; repeated deployments and/or relocations; and military sexual violence—all may exert an emotional toll on military personnel, their families, and their communities.
Specialty courts and legal projects have been created for veterans who are struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues and are involved with the criminal justice system. These courts deal with legal issues specific to veterans, prioritizing the interconnection between criminal justice and behavioral health care, with a goal to fairly adjudicate the punishment of veterans charged with crimes.
HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
In the United States, about 10% of homeless people are veterans. Among this group, three out of four experience mental and/or substance use disorders. About one fifth of veterans in substance use treatment were homeless. SAMHSA offers resources that address the unique challenges of veterans experiencing homelessness and general housing needs of returning military servicemen and their families.