Several branches of the military are reporting significant spikes in the number of suicides committed by both active-duty troops and veterans returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Experts are calling the number of military-related suicides sweeping the country an "epidemic."
Survivors of veterans who committed suicide are starting to file lawsuits, accusing the VA of medical malpractice. The agency also has come under attack by lawmakers and veterans' groups charging that it failed to treat injured veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, the signature wounds of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The agency also has been accused of manipulating suicide statistics to downplay the problem and systematically misdiagnosing returning combat soldiers who suffer mental illness because their resources are tapped.
"We are murdering our own children here," said the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., in an interview with The Detroit News.