Matt Naylor, president and CEO of the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, MO, noted the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) estimate of 140 weekly suicides among veterans, offering his remarks ahead of Memorial Day in a Friday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host Rick Manning.
Naylor said, “Each week, the Veterans Administration estimates 140 veterans take their own lives, and we want those forgotten soldiers to be remembered this Memorial Day. Those who carry the burdens of war or the burdens of service, and for some, that burden is too great. They take their lives.”
Naylor continued, “It’s those who died in battle, in service, that we remember on Memorial Day. But let’s not also forget those who, today continue to carry the scars of service and 140 veterans, it’s estimated, take their lives every week, a shocking number, who are scarred.”
According to the VA’s most recent data, there were more than 6,000 veteran suicides each year between 2008 and 2016. In 2016, the suicide rate was 1.5 times greater for veterans than for non-veteran adults.
It is “not a new thing” for America to “not look out for our veterans,” observed Naylor, recalling the struggles of American World War I veterans seeking employment and their promised compensation during the Great Depression.
Naylor reflected on Memorial Day’s objective of remembrance. “It’s right that we should take time to remember those who served, and especially those whose lives were lost,” he stated. “Those who went to foreign lands — ‘Over There’ was the song that was sung [during World War I] — to fight for ideals, and gave their lives for people who they never knew. What a remarkable thing that people would do. So it’s right that we ought to remember their sacrifice.”
“It’s really an important moment for us to remember the cost of liberty and freedom that we enjoy,” Naylor advised, describing Memorial Day’s purpose as “keeping alive the memory of those who served and reminding us of the debt we owe our forebears.”
Naylor added, “Remembering those who served, especially those whose lives were lost in those wars and wars since, is the right thing for us to do.”
Naylor contrasted the World War I era’s attitude towards military service with today.
“In some respects, the power of community was so different than it is in our experience today, and so the sense of obligation that they had to country, for many people, was significantly different than the sort of individualism we have today,” estimated Naylor.
“I think, surely, that has a profound effect on people’s willingness — or their sense of obligation that they had — to serve. There really wasn’t much of a choice. Men and women who served in World War II would say the same thing,” remarked Naylor.
Americans in the World War I and II era had “a great sense of obligation which is a different sort of experience than we experience today,” assessed Naylor.
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