Tuesday, at the Moss Point Veterans Day ceremony, a retired Army general addressed the issues many young veterans are now dealing with after returning home. Since the September 11th attacks in 2001, American troops have been involved in the longest ongoing series of conflicts in this nation’s military history.
In the age of a volunteer only military, service men and women have endured multiple deployments and tours of duty. David Blackledge, a retired Army brigadier general, says, “We know the more deployments you have, the more psychological trauma you experience and the longer it takes to recover.”
Tuesday, Blackledge was the guest speaker at the Veterans Day ceremony in Moss Point. His concern is for the servicemen and women struggling to readjust after their service ends. In his speech, Blackledge addressed many of the issues today’s veterans are facing, like unemployment and depression.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is 7.2%. That’s 188,000 former service men and women out of work. Blackledge believes these veterans would make excellent employees. He says, “They know how to follow orders, they know how to show up on time, they are very reliable workers, and they want to work.”
Another alarming statistic is the rate of suicide in veterans after leaving active duty. Blackledge closes, “The suicide rate was high on active duty, it got high, but those young veterans who left active duty and tried to integrate, they are committing suicide at a rate three times higher than those on active duty.”
Blackledge recommends we do what we can to help those veterans struggling to find their way after combat and take time to thank them for their service, even if it’s not Veterans Day.