Not All Wounds Are Visible

Ever wonder what it’s like to go through Basic Training? Do Drill Sergeants really yell all of the time? Is the gas chamber really that horrible? What’s it like to go to war? How hard is it to return home after?


According to the, military suicides have increased since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with current estimates that a veteran commits suicide every sixty-five minutes (Haiken, 2013). Faced with the stigma of post-traumatic stress disorder, high unemployment rates and loss of the military camaraderie, “many veterans report feeling purposeless upon returning home” (Goldberg, 2011).

  • From 1999-2010, the suicide rate in the US population among males was 19.4 per 100,000, compared to 4.9 per 100,000 in females.
  • Based on the most recent data available, in fiscal year 2009, the suicide rate among male Veteran VA users was 38.3 per 100,000, compared to 12.8 per 100,000 in females.

Source National Vital Statistics of the US Department of Health and Human Services

“America is losing its battle against suicide by veterans and service members,” authors Dr. Margaret C. Harrell and Nancy Berglass concluded. “And as more troops return from deployment, the risk will only grow.” Suicide is rampant among those who are currently serving too. From 2005 to 2010, approximately one service member committed suicide every 36 hours (Goldberg, 2011). In 2012 the number of deaths by suicide for active duty soldiers hit an all-time high of 349 or almost one a day. That means that during 2012 more soldiers took their own life by suicide than soldiers that lost their life due to combat (Haiken, 2013).

According to Haiken, “69 % of the suicides recorded were by veterans age 50 and older. But another way to look at this is that 31 % of these suicides were by veterans 49 and younger or in other words, by men in the prime of life.”


According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states that the nation’s homeless veterans are predominantly male, with roughly 8% being female. The majority is single; live in urban areas; and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. About 13% of the adult homeless population is veterans. Homeless veterans are younger on average than the total veteran population. Approximately 9% are between the ages of 18 and 30, and 41% are between the ages of 31 and 50. Conversely, only 5% of all veterans are between the ages of 18 and 30, and less than 23% are between 31 and 50 (NCHV, 2013).

  • One in seven homeless people previously served in the military
  • 1.5 million Veterans are at imminent risk of homelessness
  • The 2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, prepared by HUD, estimates there were 62,619 homeless Veterans on a single night in January in the United States
  • 33,000 veterans have been given permanent supportive housing by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2009
  • Almost a third of veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 were unemployed last year, according to unpublished BLS data, the Center for Progress reports
  • In 2010, nearly 1 in 10 veterans with disabilities were out of work
  • In 2010, nearly 1 million U.S. veterans reported being in poverty over the last year, the Center for American Progress reports

Source: Center for American Progress 2013

What can we do?

According to the NCHV veterans need a coordinated effort that provides secure housing, nutritional meals, basic physical health care, substance abuse care and aftercare, mental health counseling, personal development, job assessment, training and placement assistance.

While we can’t currently do everything that our veterans need, Aspire Indiana is proud to be a part of the InteCare Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSFV) project. The goal of the SSVF Program is to promote housing stability among very low-income Veteran families who reside in or are transitioning to permanent housing, and of course to help our veterans break the cycle of homelessness.

Today the InteCare SSVF project serves veterans in Marion, Madison, Shelby, Johnson, Hancock, Hamilton and Boone Counties. For qualifying veterans, the SSVF program will provide the following services as they relate to housing stability:

  • Outreach services
  • Case management services
  • Peer support services
  • Assistance obtaining VA benefits
  • Assistance obtaining other public benefits and needed services within the community
  • Temporary financial assistance that is necessary to stabilize housing
  • Housing counseling & assistance with housing searches
  • Financial planning as it relates to stabilizing housing
  • Transportation services
  • Child care services as it relates to stabilizing housing

To receive supportive services under this program, you must:

  • Be a Veteran, or the member of a family in which the head of household, or the spouse of the head of household is a Veteran
  • Meet income eligibility requirements: Your household annual income cannot exceed 50% of the area median income (AMI)
  • Be homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless

What is the definition of a Veteran under the SSVF program?

A Veteran is a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.

For further information or to arrange an eligibility screening appointment please contact (855) 896-4345. SSVF staffs are available to make community presentations and can make arrangements to meet with SSVF applicants at other locations when necessary.

To help spread the word Aspire is working with InteCare to market the program through social media.  So I would invite you to visit the new InteCare SSVF page at the link below and to “like” the page.  Then share this information with your friends and family.

About the Author

Jerry Landers is the Vice President of Business Development for Aspire Indiana. While the beliefs and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mr. Landers you can learn more about community mental health and how it intersects with business and media at

You can also follow Mr. Landers on Twitter @JerryELanders


Eleanor Goldberg, (2011), Veteran Suicide: Are We Losing The Battle? Retrieved Nov 5, 2013 from

Melanie Haiken, (Feb 2013), Suicide Rate Among Vets and Active Duty Military Jumps – Now 22 A Day, Retrieved Nov 5, 2013 from

3.Kemp, J. & Bossarte, R. (2012). Suicide Data Report, 2012. (Report prepared for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) Available from

Bureau of Labor Statistics (March 2013), Employment Situation of Veterans Summary, Retrieved Nov 5, 2013 from

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (2013), FAQ About Homeless Veterans, Retrieved Nov 5, 2013 from

About jerrylanders

Executive Director for Aspire Indiana Health and Vice President for Aspire Indiana. Doctorial Student at Columbia Southern University studying business. Married and father of three children. I blog about mental health, business, social media and how all three intersect.
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