The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) held an event, Losing the Battle, on November 1, 2011, from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m., to discuss the issue of suicide in the U.S. military with a distinguished panel of experts, including the author of the CNAS report, Losing the Battle: The Challenge of Military Suicide, Dr. Margaret Harrell, who is a Senior Fellow at CNAS and Director of the Joining Forces Initiative; General Peter Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army; Juliette Kayyem, national security columnist for The Boston Globe and a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University; and Dr. Jan Kemp, National Mental Health Program Director for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
According to the report, Losing the Battle: The Challenge of Military Suicide, "Suicide among service members and veterans challenges the health of America’s all-volunteer force." From 2005 to 2010, service members took their own lives at a rate of approximately one every 36 hours. This tragic phenomenon reached new extremes when the Army reported a record-high number of suicides in July 2011 with the deaths of 33 active and reserve component service members reported as suicides. Additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates 18 veterans die by suicide each day. Yet the true number of veterans who die by suicide, as Harrell and Berglass point out, is unknown. As more American troops return home from war, this issue will require increasingly urgent attention.