In a series of reports called “Uncounted Casualties,” the Austin (TX) American- Statesman (9/30) sought to answer the question, “What caused the deaths of hundreds of Texas veterans who had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan?” According to the American-Statesman, the US Department of Veterans Affairs “doesn’t track individual causes of death for its veterans.” The paper said, however, that its reporters “determined causes of death for 266 veterans and consulted with Dennis Perrotta, a former Texas state epidemiologist, to test their methodology and conclusions.”
Kemp Says VA Is Trying To Do More To Gather Suicide Data. In a Monday report for “Uncounted Casualties,” the Austin (TX) American-Statesman (10/1) reports that its “investigation into the deaths of 266 Texans who served during the Iraq or Afghanistan wars show that 45 committed suicide, making it the fourth-leading cause of death behind illness, accidents and drug-related deaths.” In 2008, a “CBS News investigation revealed an ‘alarming’ rate of suicide among veterans and a failure by the VA to gather the nationwide data needed to track the deaths.” But Jan Kemp , who heads VA’s suicide prevention programs, “said the VA is building a joint suicide database with the Defense Department so they can share information.” The American-Statesman also notes that VA has been trying to improve its mental healthcare system.
Researchers Think Warfare Changes Produce High Number Of Psychological Casualties. Another “Uncounted Casualties” story for the Austin (TX) American-Statesman (9/30) said that while “mental health researchers have not been able to pinpoint exactly why the current conflicts are producing seemingly higher numbers of psychological casualties, they point to the changing nature of modern warfare. Raymond Scurfield, a professor of social work at the University of Southern Mississippi and Vietnam veteran who has written extensively about PTSD, singled out multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, which are unique in American military history.” Scurfield “also said the unpredictable violence and sudden bomb blasts that characterize warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan can take a toll on service members’ psyches.”
– “Simple query prompted extensive investigation, “American-Statesman Investigative Team, Statesman.com, September 29, 2012.