New Military Family Suicide Report is a Step in the Right Direction

A war doesn’t always end when a veteran returns home. Military service has a ripple effect, impacting the children, spouses, parents, and loved ones of veterans and service members.

Suicide is a mostly preventable tragedy, and one that can be under-reported because of the stigma still surrounding it. The data that is available points to a growing issue that we must learn more about.

In the last week, the VA and Department of Defense have released two separate reports on suicide statistics for both veterans and active duty service members.

For the first time, the DOD report also includes military spouse and children statistics. This is an important step forward in acknowledging that families serve too, feeling the reverberations of deployment and Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). More data is needed to identify trends and deepen that understanding.

Active duty and military spouse suicide rates currently appear similar to civilan rates, but we can all agree that just one preventable death is too many. Our nation is facing a growing suicide crisis, and our military families are suffering.

At Project Sanctuary, we know that a family’s work is just beginning when a service member returns home. 

Therapeutic art activities from Project Sanctuary’s Teen Group and Youth Program at our therapeutic retreats show the impact of military service on children.

We see the repercussions of service on children, spouses, and caregivers. It’s why we treat the entire family as a unit, not just the veteran or spouse. We created therapeutic programming specifically for their children and teenagers. We teach them the tools they need to reconnect and define a new path forward. We help them access care with comprehensive family support services.

Suicide rates can feel discouraging. But to us, they are motivating. We know that our program works. We know this cause isn’t hopeless. And we know we can restore hope. Together, we can move the data in the right direction.

On September 27, 2007, our founder Heather Ehle incorporated Project Sanctuary. She saw a need, and she didn’t wait for someone else to do something about it. She acted. We’ve been putting families first since that day, and twelve years later, we’re proud to still be doing that.

We’re changing how military families heal.

veteran triumphantly raises a "rock and roll" sign at the top of a climbing tour at a Project Sanctuary therapeutic retreat