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Suicide rate for veterans on the rise

Thousands of American veterans have taken their own lives, and one expert says the U.S. government is at least partly to blame.

Government data says that the suicide rate for veterans jumped 2.6 percent each year from 2005 to 2011. One out of every five U.S. suicides involves a veteran.

A 2012 Veterans Affairs study revealed that 8,000 veterans commit suicide every year, which equates to about 22 suicides per day.

"Veterans Today" Senior Editor Gordon Duff said part of the reason is that today's volunteer military attracts people with a lower socioeconomic background who are feeling the strains of military life.

"We're sending them to war year after year after year, while their families fall apart and their jobs go away," said Duff.

Duff said that many veterans live in hopelessness with no feeling of community. He said the U.S. government is not doing enough to stop veterans from killing themselves.

"It [suicide] is accepted. For the most part, we simply turn away and let it happen," he said.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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