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The suicide rate of service members and troops is more than alarming, and in many cases, the suicide is not a result of a single act. That means there are warning signs that lead up to the feeling of hopelessness they must feel to lead them down such a dark path. There is no single reason for a veteran to take their own life, but I do feel there is a direct link between unemployment and the depression that can and does lead to suicide sometimes.
Every day, 22 veterans take their own life. That is about one life lost every hour, according to a 2012 VA Suicide Data Report. It is good to see that the government and several veteran service organizations are stepping up to address the problem. In February, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act was passed by Congress to help reduce military veteran suicides.
Having a job gives you a feeling of self-worth, self-confidence, and a reason to get up in the morning. You are part of a team again and contributing to your and your family's well-being. The private sector can and should step up to do their part by recruiting, hiring, and retaining veterans. We need more companies that are willing to look past a résumé and hire the person instead, and as we know, this goes against the grain of many HR departments. A résumé does not tell you about my character or my willingness to put the team first, and if I have served in the military, the résumé may not come across your desk in the format you are accustomed to seeing. If you ask any company if they would like to hire more veterans, you will always here a resounding "Absolutely!" but how many are doing their part to actually seek veterans out? This week the Military Times put out their Best for Vets list, and it was packed with 75 industry-leading companies that definitely do their part to hire veterans, but there is much more work that needs to be done. Given the service sacrifice and commitment they made to all of us who have never served, it is only fair that we meet them more than halfway as they look to reenter the civilian sector.
What I would like to encourage companies to do is take the time to get to know the veteran before deciding they are not a fit based on their résumé alone, bring them in for an interview, and then determine if they are a good fit for your open position. What they often lack on paper is more than made up for with talent, education, character, loyalty, and ability to work as part of a team under very stressful conditions.
Having a job is by no means the only solution to veteran suicide, but it will surely help in some cases.
If you are a company that would like to hire veterans, you are welcome to set up a free account on our website, and we will send you a code to advertise your jobs at no cost.
If you are a veteran in crisis or need someone to talk to, you can contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.