For the first time in human history, more troops have died by taking their own lives after returning from war, the wars in the Middle East, than died on the battlefield. Currently, there are 22 U.S. veterans a day taking their own lives after having made it home from deployment, this, according to the latest numbers released by the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, these numbers only include soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen who were on active duty. National Guard and Reservist numbers are not included in this tally, and at the height of the wars, Guard and Reservist members made up the majority of troops deployed. So, if their numbers were counted in the tally, the suicide rate may be as much as 80% greater than what is being reported.
Many people have blamed over-medicating veterans as the root cause, and though it may be a primary cause, this theory left something missing. Also, when many troops arrive home from war, they come back to a life baring little representation of the life they had before they deployed, via broken families, no job in the private sector, and a line up to two years long at the VA to be seen for treatment. This too, has been part of the equation leading to the suicide epidemic.
Thirdly, a major factor that has led to the suicide epidemic that the U.S. Army is finally admitting, is toxic leadership. The U.S. Army has now decided to fess up that some of their leadership within the ranks, as much as 20% of it, is “toxic,” as in abusive, selfish, narcissistic and demeaning toward their subordinates, and that this toxicity has resulted in suicides among the troops and veterans.
The Army has defined toxic leadership as follows:
Toxic leadership is a combination of self-centered attitudes, motivations, and behaviors that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organization, and mission performance. This leader lacks concern for others and the climate of the organization, which leads to short- and long-term negative effects. The toxic leader operates with an inflated sense of self-worth and from acute self-interest. Toxic leaders consistently use dysfunctional behaviors to deceive, intimidate, coerce, or unfairly punish others to get what they want for themselves. The negative leader completes short-term requirements by operating at the bottom of the continuum of commitment, where followers respond to the positional power of their leader to fulfill requests. This may achieve results in the short term, but ignores the other leader competency categories of leads and develops. Prolonged use of negative leadership to influence followers undermines the followers’ will, initiative, and potential and destroys unit morale.”http://freepatriot.org/2014/01/09/army-finally-admits-toxic-leadership-blame-massive-veteran-suicide-epidemic/