The photo — Kimberly Mitchell. She cries at the grave of her husband, Chad Mitchell. Chad was born in 1969, was a war in Iraq, survived, but in 2010 he died of a drug overdose and found eternal rest at the Houston National Cemetery.
Chad — one of hundreds of Texas soldiers killed not in a war zone, but have found their death at home. The results of a six-month study Statesman.com say that war veterans are dying in America from suicide, car accidents and overdoses, which in many cases can also be considered unproven acts of suicide. These people survive on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, American journalists write, but did not survive the journey home.
The study «Statesman» paints a grim and tragic picture of the fate of the Texas troops that fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, died after leaving the military. The large number and a significant share of ex-military who died of a drug overdose, prescription by prescription, or by combinations of toxic narcotic drugs, suggests that federal authorities are either unable to adequately monitor the situation, or are slow to react.
The study carefully analyzed the causes of death of 266 Texas veterans who took part in the operations of «Enduring Freedom» and «Iraqi Freedom». The source was the autopsy report, toxicology reports, minutes of interrogation reports from the scene of accidents and documents from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was also studied the obituaries, and the relatives interviewed. That's it «Statesman» pulled into the world that still lurked in the shadows.
It was found that:
— More than one-third of the number of veterans died of a drug overdose, a lethal combination of different drugs or outright suicide. Their average age at death was 28 years old;
— Nearly one in five veteran died in a car crash.
Those veterans who was registered with a primary diagnosis of post-traumatic stress, performance is much more disturbing: 80% died of an overdose, suicide or in a car accident (in the latter case, one person). Only two out of 46 with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder have died from disease.
It turns out that many veterans in Texas had committed suicide by receiving prescription drugs that contain powerful drugs. Often, they are taken together with strong painkillers. Former military are considered particularly vulnerable group, prone to take these drugs.
Investigation «Statesman» — is a tragic mosaic composed of pain, despair and hopelessness.
40-year-old Chad Mitchell, a member of seven foreign operations, settled in Austin after the resignation of the Navy. He died in September 2010. His body was found a half-dozen prescription drugs, including anti-anxiety medication and powerful painkillers oxycodone and methadone (it was written out to him in a private clinic). Mitchell was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, pain in the chest from a surgery and nerve pain after a shoulder wound received in Iraq.
Justin Lengvis, a veteran of the Iraq war, 31 years. He shot himself in January 2011 at Fort Hood. This man was a medic during fighting in Fallujah and Najaf, and survived the explosion of an improvised explosive device (he was wounded). The study also notes that several soldiers from his unit were killed during the deployment, and their names are also engraved on the memorial wall, where is the name of Lengvisa, who committed suicide.
24-year-old Paul Norris died, having lost control of the car «Honda Civic»: crashed into a stone wall, standing along a street in El Paso. According to the police report, Norris over the speed limit. His father said his son usually drove the car carefully, but must be driving it again overcame the memories of Iraq …
Statistics on U.S. veterans incomplete. The fact that not all veterans are registered. The study was, for example, identified a 44-year veteran, who resigned from the Navy in 2007 and was buried in the cemetery for the poor Travis County. He shot himself. In his apartment, police found a nearly empty bottle of rum and falling out of the hands of thirty-eight caliber pistol.
As a result, eleven years after the troops entered Afghanistan and two years after the end of hostilities in Iraq, the American people still do not know how to die by his former soldiers who have returned home. There is no such state in the United States body that would deal with the fate of hundreds of thousands of veterans who are not registered in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — which is almost half of all ex-servicemen returning from the recent wars. As for death certificates, they may also underestimate the number of suicides, including overdoses of drugs. So experts say.
Critics are skeptical that the VA can (and want) to carry out a large-scale analysis and give the public an understanding of the causes of death of American veterans.
But a few years ago in San Francisco organization "Bay Citizen" told the press that, according to the 2007, returning home have killed more soldiers than combat.
Lance Pilgrim, an army veteran, was one of the first soldiers who participated in the Iraq operation in 2003. He died from an overdose of August 18, 2007, just six days before his 27th birthday. He wrote this letter a couple of years ago, describing it with the details of how he left his beloved service, and a few months felt like an "empty space"
The study «Statesman» also showed that among Texas veterans who had long been in Iraq or Afghanistan, there are a small number of those in VA still mistakenly believed to be involved in conflicts.
Here are some details of Texas study.
47 of 266 veterans have died of a drug overdose or toxic drug combinations, 40 of them — after taking prescription drugs. Noted five overdoses of heroin or cocaine. One died aerosol another — of "ecstasy". In addition to the seven, all died from drug users were younger than 35 years. The first of them died on 23-year-old Army veteran from the Houston area. Cause of death: an overdose of cocaine, hydrocodone and alprazolam (better known as «Xanax»). He died two years later, after being featured on one of the first Iraqi operations.
45 of 266 veterans committed suicide, 32 of them — are under 35 years of age. First, again, the veteran died, who participated in 2003 in the Iraqi operation — 26-year-old native of North Texas. He committed suicide in 2005. (The researchers argue that the actual number of suicides may be higher because medical experts and magistrates are often reluctant to declare an overdose as a method of suicide: it is completely not been proven).
Another 50 veterans, or 18% of the total number, were killed in automobile accidents, and 35 of them were accidents with one vehicle. About half of the veterans have exceeded the speed in a drunken state.
The researchers believe that their analysis provides an unprecedented picture of the death, which decimated the veterans returning home. As for the department, the VA and really has no idea how bad it is.
And those who work in close cooperation with the veterans, saying that the figures «Statesman» look familiar to them.
However, VA realizes some program. It is now planned to introduce the new program of treatment to correct protocols for prescription drugs and to conduct appropriate studies on pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as other problems of veterans of recent conflicts. The Department spends about $ 70 million a year to the prevention of suicide each year, and plans to increase funding (up to 2014). The total budget of VA mental health has increased since 2009 by 39% — to about $ 6 billion.
However, it is believed that it is not enough. After a full assessment of the mental health of veterans (more than 9 out of 10 cases) is performed only once — during the first 14 days after returning home soldier, as required by the policy of the Department.
In 2010, the 22-year-old Clint Dickey was traveling at a college station in Waco for a meeting with a representative of VA. Indifferent doctor prescribed him from back pain caused by trauma, in Afghanistan, a tablet, which should take 4-6 weeks. The veteran died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs dispensed in a few days. His widow, Samantha, suspects that her husband was in pain so bad that he obtained oxycodone without a prescription. "If it had not been ignored, he would never have reached the point," — she said.
In the summer of 2012 VA announced that it will hire 1,600 new doctors.
Potent drugs pose a risk of death for veterans. VA physicians over the past ten years have written much more powerful prescription painkillers — just leave in pharmacies hydrocodone, buy veterans from 2001 to 2011. jumped more than six times. These drugs are addictive, especially strong among the young. Almost a quarter of veterans, according to the 2010, prescribed opiates.
And finally — are two terrible numbers:
— 3,800,000: the number of prescriptions for narcotic pain pills, prescribed by military doctors to patients in 2009;
— 420,000: the number of veterans of the 5 million people who participated in different wars, receiving treatment from doctors and VA have problems with substance abuse (2010).