DES MOINES ? One year before combat veteran Richard Miles froze to death alone in a Des Moines park, in what the medical examiner determined as a suicide, 75 less well-known Iowa veterans committed suicide. Miles died in 2015. The 75 died in 2014, which is the last year that complete veterans suicide records are available from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The rate at which Iowa veteran suicides occurred generally matched the national rates, except for the critical post 9/11 war veterans. This group had a suicide rate at least 20 percent above the national rate. This is statistically significant and could relate to an underlying cause that has not yet been identified.
The Veterans National Recovery Center announced a Memorial Service for Veteran Suicides for the 75 deaths from 2014. The ceremony was scheduled today immediately follow Veterans Day on the Hill at the Iowa State Capitol.
?Because suicide information is often confidential, many people do not fully understand the scale of the veteran suicide epidemic. Besides honoring these veterans, we hope to educate Iowans. We will hold services for veteran suicides in future year groups as the information from the VA becomes available,? said Bob Krause, president of the VNRC.
Krause added that the individual names of veteran suicides remain confidential.
The event was open to the public at 12:30 p.m. today in Room 304.
The service was ecumenical. Ministers officiating were the Rev. Ken Briggs, United Church of Christ, Mark Finkelstein, Jewish Federation, and Imam Nernin Spahic.