This photograph of TSgt Andrew Curry, was taken right after he came off a 16 hour shift at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Missouri, USA. During his six years stationed at WAFB, more airmen committed suicide than died in combat.
The stresses of an almost non-existent work-life balance, coupled with high demands and high-pressure situations often leave our military personnel feeling disconnected with the civilian world and unable to adjust to “normal” life after deployment or separation.
In the military, there is a strong stigma surrounding mental illness. Seeing a professional for things like PTSD, depression, anxiety, and paranoia can lead to loss of rank or job duties and put strain on fellow airmen, as they are further stretched to cover for their ailing comrade.
Many military personnel refuse to seek treatment out of embarrassment and for fear of being chastised as weak or retaliated against by their superiors and fellow comrades. A 2013 study by the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, showed that roughly 22 veterans were committing suicide every day, or one every 65 minutes. 30% of those suicides were users of VA services. A majority of vets report a wait of 6+ months for mental health services with the VA.