What happens when Americans return from war? David Finkel’s book answers that question with disturbing and painful detail. Veteran Matt Gallagher reflects.
According to a report (PDF) released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs earlier this year, an estimated 22 veterans committed suicide in America each day in 2010. U.S. Army soldier suicides outnumbered combat-related deaths in 2012. And 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America survey respondents have considered taking their own life.
Those are the numbers, and numbers have a way of numbing us to the complexities that make up everyday life. What drives these battle-hardened men and women to the breaking point? Why do some people return home from combat ready and able to transition back to civilian life, while others cannot, despite their best efforts? How does suicide in the ranks continue to mystify the much-vaunted and ever-powerful U.S. military?