VA kicks off massive study of veterans’ deaths

Nextgov by Bob Brewin: The Veterans Affairs Department has kicked off a massive study in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Defense Department to determine the cause of veterans’ deaths since 1979, an effort that requires matching records of 34 million service personnel with death certificates. Aaron Schneiderman, acting director of VA’s epidemiology program, said the National Mortality Study will first focus on roughly 1 million veterans who served on active duty during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars from 2001 through 2010, which among other things will help the VA determine the scope of veteran suicides on a national basis. These matches only will include personal information such as name, date of birth and Social Security number; they will not include Defense health records. A veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes, according to recent estimates from the VA. Suicides by active duty military personnel in 2012 hit 349, more than the 295 Americans who died in combat in Afghanistan. Read Full Article Here