Help Prevent Veteran Suicide by Being a Battle Buddy


Wingman, battle buddy, shipmate. These terms are used to describe the buddy system in the military. Looking out for the person beside you is one of the very first things taught to a young enlistee. Sadly, in suicide prevention, we are failing our buddies.

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, data shows that there is an average of 950 suicide attempts each month by veterans who are receiving some type of treatment. At least 7 percent of the attempts are successful, and 11 percent of those who don’t succeed on the first attempt try again within nine months.

That averages out to 18 veteran suicides a day, five of those by veterans who are currently receiving treatment. Though screening programs are in place to identify those with problems, and special efforts are made to track those considered at high risk, we as friends and family have to make sure that our loved ones are actually receiving the treatments available.

Suicide attempts by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans remains a key area of concern. VA statistics show that there were 1,621 suicide attempts by men and 247 by women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, with 94 men and four women dying.

The VA’s suicide hotline has been receiving about 10,000 calls a month from current and former service members. If you or someone you know could use these services, the number is 1-800-273-8255. Service members and veterans should push 1 for veterans’ services.


Photo thanks to Scott* under creative commons license on Flickr.


30 thoughts on “Help Prevent Veteran Suicide by Being a Battle Buddy”

  1. L. Cooper USAF Ret

    There are a many reasons, but one I know for a fact that contribute to why there is an average of 950 suicide attempts each month by veterans is easy. If a Veteran is pickup by ambulance and transported to an Emergency Room the VA turns down the ER and Ambulance bill for some reason or another and feels that suicide was not a life threatening emergency at the time. Also another is both Hospital and Ambulance billing service doesn’t find out the individual is a Veteran until 90 days past the deadline for filing making it an automatic denial. Also Many ER’s and Ambulance services do not want to mess with the VA claim for it takes up to 2 years sometimes more for the claim to get paid, so the bill id handed over to collections destroying the Veterans Credit. Also the patient is just stabilized and sent home without no followup due to no funds available. Both Senator John Boozman and Congressman Congressman Steve Womack office is very aware of this and nothing has been done.

    1. Now you only have 30 days to turn in paperwork before it gets disapproved and you have to go thru appeal…..they just changed it….so usually the ambulance company doesnt bill you til after 30 days so you are already screwed and will have to pay cause an appeal could take years…..It’s a shame

  2. Ronnie Harrington

    It is so sad about us military fighters taking our own lives I know because i have been there. I almost went all the way but God stopped me and I called suicide hotline instead. Thank you my most precious Lord

  3. I am a retired mental health clinician and MICA (mental illness, chemical addiction) COunselor. I am also married to a Viet Nam Veteran…My personel opinion..There needs to be a “Battle Buddy” list or group or something so we could hook up with those who could use support. I understand the confidentiality and hppa issues but if those in need volunteered their info…… there are many of us who could and would be there for support.

  4. I am a Viet Nam Vet and suffer from PTSD. I lived with it for many years without seeking professional help. I Just assumed that the symptoms I was experiencing were something I had to live with. My VA rep. contacted me out of the blue and helped me to seek assistance from the VA. Things are much brighter now and I don’t feel as though there is a cloud constantly hanging over me. Willing to help others find help they need.

  5. If anyone needs a shoulder to lean on or an ear, I am Retired Coast Guard and would love to help if someone needs it. Contact me at my email.

  6. I am a Vietnam Vet,

    Welcome Home!!!!

    I am a vietnam era Vet, willing to talk to anyone who needs to talk.

    Email me, I will be available, Thank you for your service….


  7. I am a Vietnam veteran and served as a combat medic in Vietnam.
    I have written a book, just released, Blood on the Battlefield a Combat Medic’s Story of Service to God and Country. I devoted an entire chapter on PTSD, what are some of the latest treatments available and how to participate in them. I believe that information in my book could be very useful to all Veterans old or new, that are dealing with
    Repectfully Submitted,
    Preston S. Williams

  8. I am a female retired Navy Reserve SKCS (E8) in North Alabama.
    Contact me No vet should ever stand alone, we are all family.
    I served for 28 yrs, 16 on active duty. I was in Iraq twice, Albania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Germany, 3 USA Coasts, I served with Army, Navy Seabees, Coast Guard, Air Force, Along side the Marines, with the Navy in Gitmo, 6 -1/2 years as a recruiter, among other Active and Reserve commands. I just kept on volunteering and the Navy just kept on sending me… My dad is a Vietnam vet, my daughter is on active duty with Army. You need an ear? Email me

  9. I can be a Veteran Battle Buddy. I served in the US Army SpecOps, and I was in 8 theaters of combat. I received Purple Heart w/Cluster, Distinquished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Bronze Star. I left as a Captain in the Delta Force (Special Operations Command). I’ve been there, any Veteran feel free to email me and we will start talking about your problems and getting you solutions.

  10. I’m more than ready to do my part… So, tell me what do I need to do and where do I begin? Everyone should lend a hand, an ear & a heart plus quiet a few tears. After all.. Look what our Vets did for us!!!! I ♡♡ LOVE ♡♡ OUR ♡♡ VETERANS!! ♡♡ Please God lighten their hearts & souls. Make their burdens easier to deal with AND God, Bless Them All!!! Please allow them the comfort, compassion & peace of mind they are truly deserving of… Amen, Amen, Amen†

  11. I am a Vietnam era Vet, and im in social work i am willing to talk to anyone who needs to talk.

    Email me, I will be available, Thank you for your service

  12. i want to help, my mother is a therapist and owns her own practice. She helps a lot of people deal with PTSD in any form. also people tell me im good to talk to.

  13. I want to thank all the veterans for their service and sacrifices. If anyone would like to talk or chat about anything please feel free to Email anytime. I’m a veteran…82nd Airborne Army. I have had some rough times and issues to work through and I know what can lie just beneath the surface. I will admit honestly that if it wasn’t for a few true friends who really cared I would not be here to write this comment. I’m very glad that I not only reached out to them but I let them help me. Sometimes it takes the strength and love of many to keep the “one”!!!!!!! Believe!!!!!!!

  14. I married a vietnam vet a year ago He suffers from flashbacks etc He said nothing helps hes had different treatments,drs,etc but he said nothing helps. Im at wits end dealing with his habits, etc. He said whiskey,wine drinking etc is the only thing that helps,and playing games on facebook,where our bank account was in trouble because of this, sometimes he goes for amonth without showering bathing,or changing clothes,Hes had phone calls and letters sent from the vet board to answer but he ignors them. hes fighting many battles from the past,not just from war.He refuses to go to altoona to get medicine or even take it I coulld get free medical and health care because I have many health issues that are serious being that Imhis wife they will only talk to him they will not discuss it with me he has to prove who I am etc. I dont know what to do. He needs help but I do too.

    1. Patty – See (or call) a VFW or DAV representative for more information on how to help your husband and yourself. The VA will want a certified copy your marriage certificate for starters. Also, the VA won’t let you handle any of your husbands affairs unless your husband assigns you as the “authorized” person the act on his behalf, especially his financial affairs. I hope this helps you. Talk to the VFW or DAV first though. They will provide you with the proper guidance.

  15. Folks, until the DoD, DoA, VA, and others involved in the care of our soldiers stop prescribing certain drugs for treatment, no amount of buddying in the world is going to stop the suicide rate. The suicide situation in the age group involving teens and young adults taking these drugs is so bad that the FDA has mandated a “black box” warning for these drugs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs). The soldiers and veterans who are committing suicide are being prescribed these drugs. These soldiers and veterans fall into the age group affected by this danger. Here is a link explaining the phenomenon in more detail:
    The message to the health care providers should be: STOP PRESCRIBING THESE DRUGS TO OUR SOLDIERS AND VETERANS; they are increasing the suicide rate to unprecedented levels.

  16. We need to get soldiers healthy and any drug that can exacerbate suicide or homicidal thoughts and actions should not be in the treatment protocol; at all! SSRIs have a history of making people crazy.(heaven forbid we add the issue of synergistic effect and polypharmacy-pain meds, diabetes meds…) Ironically, SSRIs have a clinical efficacy of equal to or slightly better than a placebo. That means they work because people think they do. Caffeine would be a better mood elevator because at least it does not have the killer side effects like SSRIs. The drug companies created the myth of efficacy and the public bought it, even physicians who should know better and do more homework.WARNING: Trying to stop psych meds on your own is dangerous; find a doc who is capable of weening you off this poison. Exercise, rest and proper diet will do the trick. The rest is retraining the mind to think differently,and react differently. Please check out and especially for alternatives and real truth about psych drugs. Good luck and tuck in close with someone if you are suffering. Community and conversation will beat lonely isolation any day. There is hope!

  17. I would definately like to offer my assistance, I am a currently working towards my CASAC which is a credentialed substance abuse counselor, i am a US Army Medic and LPN.

  18. My Dearest Soldier

    My dearest soldier, I remember when you would have died for me,
    Why then oh why, is suicide the only option you can now see?

    I sit here alone and wish I knew how to call you up on the phone.
    I wish I knew who or where you were so I could make sure you aren’t alone.

    I wish you would send me your email so I could just drop you a line,
    The real truth is, I want some guarantee that you will eventually be just fine.

    But wars hurt and mame and the warriors never come home quite the same.
    You all have paid such an ultimate price and life in this world can get insane.

    If I could scream at you I would say just wait a little longer until you want to again live.
    But I know that with PTSD, brain trauma, wheelchair’s, and all the rest, your feeling you must have nothing else to give.

    But if you will take just a moment to listen to a friend, I promise with time the heart can again mend.
    If you listen close I’ll tell you the truth, even with a battered body or mind, you still have something special you can give a friend.

    Make sure someone gets you some access to a phone and a computer,
    Because I am excited to see what you can all do if You choose to live until the future.

    There will be hope again in your life, I Promise!

    With Loving Regards,
    Debbie Wilson 12-26-2011

  19. My husband was a WW2 Vet, he had a stroke in l989, he could not talk, walk, or any longer use his brain. He could do nothing for himself. To get he VA to help him, I had to take the entire thing to a Senator. Senator DeConnici whom without him, Raymond would have died. The
    VA only moved on his heavy handed investiagation for five years. Then when he left office, so did Ray’s rights to stay in the VA. I brought him home and took care of him until he could not function as a person and he got renal disfunction. He lived 10 years from this stroke, I fought with the VA in Arizona for those ten years. Because Ray was not a Disabled Veteran , he was just an HONABLE VETERAN. I remain greatful for the help of Senator DeConnici whom saved Ray from dying, and because I had to sell all my property (the VA kept threatening me they would put him in State Care, meaning all property would have a judgement put on his side). Senator Deconnici got my husband into Arlington National Cemetery. KEEP FIGHTING MY VETS TIL THE TEARS FLOW INTO OUR LAP, MY PRAYERS ARE FOR EACH AND EVERY VET TO FIND THE HELP I HAD TO BECAUSE THE VA WOULD NOT WOULD NOT WANT TO HELP MY HUSBAND, whom could do nothing without help from an Arizona Senator. Fair, no those were not the words, the government promised in going to war, WE WOULD TAKE CARE OF ALL YOUR MEDICAL NEEDS WHENEVER YOU NEED IT. Most of them died as they had no voice for them. That is what is NOT FAIR. Politics-How sad is that? I give my full support to all of you and love for your help in keeping us all free. I LOVE ALL OF YOU. SUSAN MYERS

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