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10 Hard Truths About War for Veterans Day (and Every Other Day)

As we celebrate our veterans, we need to remember some realities that the public is barely aware of, but veterans know only too well.

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7) Every day, five U.S. soldiers attempt suicide, a 500 percent increase since 2001. Every day 18 U.S. veterans attempt suicide, more than four times the national average. Of the 30,000 suicides each year in the U.S., 20 percent are committed by veterans, though veterans make up only 7.6 percent of the population. Female veteran suicide is rising at a rate higher than male veteran suicides.

8) The number of U.S. service men and women killed in Afghanistan has doubled in the first quarter of 2010, compared to the same quarter last year. In the first two months of 2010, injuries tripled.

9) Estimates of civilian deaths from violence in Iraq alone range from a conservative 105,000 (Iraq Body Count project) to over 1.2 million (UK pollster Opinion Research Business), with estimates by Johns Hopkins at 655,000. More than 125,000 civilians have been injured in Iraq and 4 million displaced, with civilian death and injury in 2010 rising each month. By most estimates, tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed or injured since the 2001 invasion; over 200,00 have been internally displaced; and over two million have become refugees, with civilian deaths and injuries rising dramatically in 2010. Since the Vietnam War, the major toxic exposures to troops and veterans, from Agent Orange to depleted uranium, have affected local populations catastrophically.

10) U.S. veterans live with these horrific realities daily. Many are acutely aware as they suffer, of the suffering they have inflicted on others.

Nora Eisenberg is the director of the City University of New York's fellowship program for emerging scholars. Her writing has appeared in the Partisan Review, Village Voice, the Los Angeles Times and Tikkun. Her most recent novel, 'When You Come Home' (Curbstone, 2009), explores the the 1991 Gulf War and Gulf War illness.

 
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