October 31, 2011

New CNAS Report: Military Suicide Challenges Health of the Force

The Center
for a New American Security (CNAS) released today a new report, Losing the Battle: The Challenge of
Military Suicide
by Dr. Margaret Harrell, CNAS Senior Fellow and Director of the
Joining Forces Initiative; and Nancy Berglass, CNAS Non-Resident Senior

to the report, "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.

Download Losing the Battle: The
Challenge of Military Suicide

Harrell and
Berglass present a number of concrete policy recommendations including:
establishing an Army unit cohesion period; removing the congressional
restriction on unit leaders discussing personally owned weapons with service
members; and increasing coordination between the Department of Defense (DOD),
the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS) to improve the analysis of veteran suicide data. Despite
the efforts of the DOD and the VA to address military suicide, obstacles
remain, and policymakers must bring a renewed urgency to their efforts if
America is to both honor the sacrifices made by the all-volunteer force and
protect its future health and ability to defend the nation.

On Tuesday,
November 1, 2011, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., CNAS will host an

featuring a discussion with
Dr. Margaret Harrell, co-author of Losing the Battle; General Peter
Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff of the United States 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. If you haven't already, RSVP online here to attend
the event. Camera pre-set is at 3:00 p.m. You may also visit the CNAS LIVE page to watch the
webcast and share your comments and questions via Twitter @CNASdc #military #suicide.

Copies of Losing the Battle: The Challenge
of Military Suicide
will be available at the event.


The Center
for a New American Security
 (CNAS) is an independent and nonpartisan
research institution that develops strong, pragmatic and principled national
security and defense policies. CNAS leads efforts to help inform and
prepare the national security leaders of today and tomorrow.