JAY JANSON—How many veterans committed suicide out of shame for what they did in Vietnam? More U.S. veterans have committed suicide between 2008 and 2017 than the number of U.S. soldiers that died during the entire Vietnam War. According to the defense news site Military.com, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) shared these alarming rates in a September 2019 report. The U.S. suffered around 58,000 fatalities over the course of the Vietnam War, which lasted from 1955 to 1975. This number has now been eclipsed by the more than 60,000 U.S. veteran suicides in a recent span of just 10 years. More than 6,000 veterans committed suicide every year during that timeframe. Many were veterans of horror in Iraq, Afghanistan, Dominican Republic, Panama or Somalia, but a lot of suicides were by Vietnam vets.
In ‘Shame, Guilt, Self-Hatred and Remorse in the Psychotherapy of Vietnam Combat Veterans Who Committed Atrocities’ author Mel Singer, L.C.S.W. describes the plight of a subgroup of Vietnam veterans suffering from combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), who committed atrocities while serving in Vietnam. Years after their service in Vietnam ended, certain veterans continue to exhibit shame, guilt, self-hatred and a sense of being interminably unforgivable, all feelings related to the atrocities they committed.