'We've Got 18 Vets a Day Who Are Killing Themselves in the United States'

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Former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen describes, in dramatic detail, the stresses put on soldiers and their families since 9/11.

Notes from the Aspen Ideas Festival -- See full coverage

The whole clip above is worth watching.

If you've got time for just one quote, here's my pick:

"If I'm a 5-year-old boy or girl in the family of one of these deploying units for the army whose average deployment was 12 months at a time, and my dad or mom - but mostly my dad - has deployed at this pace, I'm now fifteen or sixteen years old, and my dad has been gone three, four or five times. And my whole conscious life, from the time when I was five and I started to figure out that there was something out there, my whole conscious life has been at war. The United States has never, never experienced that before. And we see incredible stresses on families.

Now we are coming home. By no means are we home.  We still have 90,000 troops in Afghaistan. And I believe we're going to see a couple decades of challenges associated with the stresses we've not been dealing with and the issues we've been packing away. Indicative of that is the incredible suicide rate we have on the active side, which is even despite all the efforts of leadership to contain it, is in the army this year higher now than it was a year ago. And another statistic that hasn't gotten much traction is that we've got 18 vets a day who are killing themselves in the United States."
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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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