We lean on that statistic over and over again because there is no better indicator of the fight we’re in right now.

50% higher risk. 1.5x the national average. It’s all right there.

Does it tell the whole story, though? No. The military suicide crisis is complex, complicated and often deeply personal.

To get a better picture of the battle we’re fighting, consider the following:

Helmet 23x

By 2030, the total of veteran suicides will be 23x higher than the number of post-9/11 combat deaths.

Cross On Shield $221B

By 2030, veteran suicide will account for more than $221 billion in public costs.

Star Badge 114K+

Since 2001, more than 114,000 veterans have died by suicide.

Dog Tags 86%+

Since 2006, there has been an 86% increase in suicide rate among 18-to-34 year old male veterans.

Experience

  • Among veterans who served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the suicide rate for those who were undeployed is 48% higher than for veterans who experienced deployment.
  • Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for post-9/11 veterans, accounting for 22.3% of all deaths.
  • In 2015 (most recent year data is available), more than 70% of veteran suicides occurred outside Veterans Health Administration care.

Safety and Security

  • Veterans account for more than 9% of all adults experiencing homelessness in the U.S., translating to more than 39,000 homeless veterans on any given day.
  • Among veterans experiencing homelessness, 59% are age 51 or older.
  • Between 2009 and 2016, there was a 54% increase in the number of veterans age 62 or older experiencing homelessness.
  • Individuals of color comprise 18% of the general veteran population, but account for 43% of all veterans experiencing homelessness.

Personal and Social Trauma

Helmet With Prongs 31%

Depending on branch, up to 31% of service members develop PTSD after returning from combat.

Heart In Sheild 7x

The rate of suicide for veterans in the LGBTQ+ community is up to 7x higher than for non-LGBTQ+ veterans.

Heart In Bubble 40%

More than 40% of female veterans report experiencing military sexual harassment or military sexual trauma.

Globe In Square 1 in 10

More than 1-in-10 U.S. veterans have been diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder.

Transition

  • More than 40% of veterans say they experience high levels of difficulty when transitioning. Studies show that those individuals are 5x more likely to experience suicidal ideation.
  • When asked if their transition experience was more difficult than expected, 48% of veterans agree. When asked if their transition experience was stressful, 76% of veterans agree.
  • More than 80% of post-9/11 veterans say that the public does not understand the problems those who have served face in transitioning to civilian life.
  • More than 80% of civilian organizations have no veteran-specific recruiting programs, and more than 50% offer no onboarding or transition support to veteran hires.
  • More than 45% of veterans with combat experience describe transition as difficult, compared to 18% of veterans with no combat experience.
  • Roughly 35% of veterans say they have trouble paying their bills in their first few years after leaving the military.
  • Only about half of NCOs and enlisted personnel agree when asked if the military prepared them well for the transition to civilian status.

Sources:

  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • US. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Veterans Health Administration
  • Journal of Clinical Psychology
  • United States Interagency Council on Homelessness
  • National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics
  • State of California Department of Insurance
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • military-transition.org
  • Louis, Matthew J., Mission Transition
  • Pew Research Center