By the Numbers: Problem Set

Suicide: An Epidemic

  • Veteran suicides account for 22% of all suicide completions in the U.S.
  • Suicides have surpassed combat deaths
  • 22 veterans die by suicide a day or about one every 65 minutes averaging more than 6K a year
  • The most vulnerable age for suicides is between 18-39
  • Men are 2X as likely to commit suicide over the general population
  • Women 3X as likely with numbers increasing the younger the female veterans are-up to 12X


  • 43% have service-related disabilities more than any other war era
  • VA has a backlog of over 2 years for disability claims

Substance/Alcohol Use Disorder (SUD & AUD)

  • Major increase in prescriptions for pain reliving drugs to include Viagra and Opioids
  • Such prescriptions skyrocketed from 3.9M in 2009, quadruple that of 2001
  • Opioid prescriptions increased from 17% to 24% during the same period
  • In 2013, 1 in 15 veterans were diagnosed with a SUD
  • Range from 3.7% among pre-Vietnam era vets to 12.7% who have served since September 2011
  • 58% seeking treatment for AUD also meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD. This combination leads to:
    • Major depression (36.8% vs. 2.3% AUD alone)
    • Generalized anxiety disorder (43.5% vs. 4.1%)
    • Suicidal ideation (39.1% vs. 7%)
    • Suicidal attempts (46% vs. 4.1%)

Career Development

  • 80% of service members leave the military without a job
  • Within two years, over 74% of veterans placed in jobs quit
  • Upon leaving the service, they are mostly educated about corporate job placement vs. other opportunities
  • 690K veterans looking for work
  • Post-9/11 veterans say that finding a job is the greatest challenge they face into transitioning to civilian life
  • Most educated force in history
  • Half of G.I. Bill funds go unused annually
  • Most veterans that start college after leaving the service do not finish


  • Veterans are 3X more likely to become homeless than the general population
  • 13% of adult homeless population
  • Most vulnerable population are younger veterans between 18-30
  • Nearly half are in CA, TX, NY and FL
  • The VA can’t keep up with demand for shelter
  • Many aging veterans can’t prove their service, therefore become homeless
  • Largest veteran aging population in nation’s history
  • Roughly 10M veterans are over 65-the demand for long-term service will continue to far exceed supply
  • 80% of these will develop the need for long-term services and support
  • By 2035 the Post 9/11 veterans will be middle aged


  • Within the last 10 years, the number of troops diagnosed with PTSD has 3X
  • 40% who go through treatment are cured
  • Most are never diagnosed due to the stigma it carries
  • Only about 10% of Post 9/11 veterans are seeking treatment through the VA


  • Underdiagnosed in the veteran community
  • 1 in 3 visiting primary care clinics have some symptoms of depression
  • 1 in 5 have serious symptoms and 1 in 8 have major depression

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

  • Nearly 350K incidents diagnosed since 2000
  • Often accompanied by PTSD and a much greater risk for suicide

Physical Health

  • Most veterans experience high rates of pain upon leaving the service
  • 78% of all veterans are overweight or obese
  • Highest among veterans with PTSD or depression and greatest risk of continuing to gain weight
  • 75% of Post 9/11 veterans are overweight or obese
  • Suffer disproportionately from certain infections that civilians almost never experience

Female Veterans

  • Often viewed as the ‘invisible veteran’ and many do not self-identify as a veteran
  • Many studies show women increasingly feel ignored, dismissed, disenfranchised as everything is centered around male vets-going back to pre-1970s terminology of the ‘invisible veteran’
  • Women veterans have to ‘learn’ what it means to be ‘feminine’ because in the service they have to be short, concise, authoritative and competent. This approach is often frowned upon on the outside. Being ‘vulnerable’ is not an option. They struggle with this transition and ‘likability’. Men do not have to face these cultural norms as being blunt is a positive for a man.
  • Lack of data & healthcare. The VA is not keeping up with female veteran needs as the one size fits all mentality is not working. Multiple studies conclude that more data is needed on why women are suffering higher rates of just about everything but addiction.
  • To 5 conditions: PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, Migraine, lumbosacral/cervical strain & uterus/ovary removal
  • Workforce participation at 61% vs. 81% for male veterans
  • Currently 2M female veterans
  • Women are now the fastest growing cohort within the veteran community
  • The total population of women veterans is expected to increase at an average rate of about 18,000 women per year for the next 10 years
  • Historically, only 1.4% of all female Americans have served in the military
  • 74% of female veterans surveyed said that the general public did not recognize their service
  • Unemployment rates 11.1% compared to 7% for other women
  • Younger women face the highest unemployment rates at 35.4%
  • 21% less likely to win federal contracts, 6% chance of winning VC funds and access to capital/loans 3X less than male counterparts
  • In 2015, 23.4 percent of all women veterans were currently divorced compared with 12.6 percent of non-veteran women
  • 3X as likely to experience homelessness and poverty over non-veteran women
  • Suffer higher rates of PTSD and depression of male veterans
  • Account for 95% of reported sex crimes
  • 3X, 6X and 12X (rates are higher the younger they are) more likely to die by suicide over non women veterans