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Car accidents are the leading killer of returning veterans

The suicide rate among returning veterans has been well documented but it turns out that returning veterans are more likely to die from car accidents than suicides during the first year after they return from war. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Veterans Affairs Department indicate that veterans are more likely to be involved in fatal car accidents than the average civilian. The statistics also indicate that the likelihood that a veteran will be involved in a fatal accident depends on which war the veteran was involved in.

Vietnam veterans are twice as likely to die in fatal traffic accidents than non-veterans. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are 75 percent more likely to die in traffic accidents and the death rate among Gulf War veterans is between 30 and 50 percent the rate of civilians.

The mother of one veteran who died in a car accident upon returning from the Iraq war said that she had no idea that her son was at an increased risk of dying in a car accident. The mother, like so many other parents of veterans, assumed that getting her son home from the war zone was the most important safety concern she had. The mother said that she believes that veterans should be provided with more intensive therapy to help reduce the number of traffic deaths that veterans experience.

The NHTSA has taken note of the problem and deputy administrator Ronald Medford said in a speech last summer that the issue of veteran crashes deserves more attention.

"It troubles me to tell you that once you get them home safely, they are coming home to risk of death and injury on our roadways," Medford said.

Source: AOL News, "Tragedy On Wheels: Why Returning Vets Are In Frequent Car Crashes," Sharon Silke Carty, Oct. 13, 2011

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