It isn't easy for me to say this, but the hard truth is staring you in the face. It's the unemployed, shellshocked, amputee elephant in the room, and it's time to acknowledge it.
You've failed, and you've broken your promises. Two things that America has never been good at doing gracefully. And as ever, the price of failure is the same thing our word is sealed by. Blood.
So America, your war isn't doing too well and neither are the people you asked to go fight it.
Politicians lie, but numbers don't. More veterans die by their own hand than any action of the enemy. A veteran of Iraq or Afghanistan kills himself every day. Every day. Care to guess how disproportionate that is?
The most current numbers available put the rate at 11.8 per 100,000 people in the general population in the United States.
Now we get into a little bit of math, and a little bit of background information, but nothing horribly complicated.
A very generous approximation shows that currently. about 7% of Americans are veterans, with the vast majority being WWII, Korea, and Vietnam era veterans, and a good number who served during Desert Storm.
As of the most recent complete numbers, about .75% (3/4 of a percent) of Americans are currently in uniform. Approximately 2,800,000 Americans have served during, but not necessarily in, the OEF/OIF wars.
To understand the lopsided nature of deployments, it's important to realize that of those currently serving, less than 60% of military members have actually ever even deployed - and deployments can be to locations as varied as England, Korea, and Afghanistan, and for durations of anything from 30 days to a year or more.
Approximately 10% of OEF/OIF veterans are combat veterans. There is no accurate, publicly available statistic for this, but the number commonly accepted, and in fact borne out by formal and informal polls, organizational charts, doctrinal abstractions, and the less easily quantifiable "institutional knowledge" is 10%.
So if we crunch the numbers, we get a number for Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans that is very close to 280,000. About one of these every day kills themselves.
That's just a hair over 130 per 100,000, or over 11 times the rate of the general population.
Eleven times higher.
The suicide rate for the total active duty force is similar, but slightly lower. No data is available on the split between combat veterans and those who have never seen combat in the active duty statistics.
And even more damning: Even among veterans currently getting help at the VA, the rate is a documented 38/100,000, or more than three times higher than the general population. This is even worse when you consider the abysmally low number of veterans who can or do get help at the VA.
More veterans kill themselves than are killed in combat.
Why am I losing more of my brothers and sisters to themselves, to broken promises and neglect, than to the enemy who has actual weapons? Why do they have to work so hard to be invisible on the battlefield and find that they can't be anything but invisible at home?
If you are an American of legal age to vote, I hold you accountable.
I hold you accountable for your apathy and your shortsightedness and your refusal to care enough to make your votes do more than more of the usual. I hold you accountable for voting on party lines without regard for substance or accountability of our elected officials, and for allowing politicians to continue to flush us down the toilet.
I hold you accountable for not voting. You think your vote doesn't matter? Tell that to the Congress who continues to get away with showboat budget cuts that do nothing but shit on the .75% of Americans who had faith in the promises of the government that you elected, or refused to.
They're even saying now, openly and publicly, that caring for veterans is more expensive than was projected. So rather than suck it up and do what is necessary, many are simply calling to cut the budget for veterans' care, with some very high profile proposals going mostly unnoticed. Short-term political capital being traded for fractions of pennies in budget savings when compared to almost any other government program. And more importantly, traded for shattered credibility.
If you care more about Lindsay Lohan's latest nightclub faux pas than the fading coverage of the war that America has already forgotten, my family's blood is on your hands.