USA Afghanistan city Kabul, Afghanistan show death USA Afghanistan city Kabul, Afghanistan

A moral injury for America’s veterans

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It’s been 21 years since Sept. 11, 2001 and the terrorist attacks that launched a generation of troops into combat. New numbers from the US military show the staggering cost — 30,177 active duty and military veterans have died by suicide since then.That’s four times as many deaths as those killed in action during the same period, according to the latest Pentagon statistics.

In a recent survey by the Brookings Institution, 73% of veterans who fought in Afghanistan say they feel betrayed by the withdrawal from Afghanistan and how the war ended, leading to an uptick in calls to veteran suicide hotlines, according to veteran advocates.

Ret. Lt. Col. Scott Mann, a former Green Beret who helped rescue this Afghan commando who he fought alongside and 1,000 other Afghans after Kabul fell to the Taliban in August 2021, authored a new book, "Operation Pineapple Express," about what he and other veterans did to help.

Mann says the military could be at the beginning — not end — of a suicide spike and that one reason is that many veterans view the Afghan pullout and the way it was handled as a "moral stain."  "You add all of that moral injury on top of what were already a lot of effects from this longest war.

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