Readers React

Suicide and female military veterans

To the editor: Research shows that those joining the military are "more likely to have endured difficult childhoods, including emotional and sexual abuse." ("Suicide rate of female military veterans is called 'staggering,'" June 8)

Talented children of wealthy but abusive parents are unlikely to receive financial support from them. Scholarships are based on the financial status of the family. Enter the ROTC. But the training in the military may echo the harsh treatment of the parent, traumatizing again.

In addition, foster youth are on their own at 18. Thus the military seems appealing. But are vulnerable coming-of-age youth who have endured abusive parenting psychologically prepared for the rigors and traumas of military service?

It's heartening that we've begun to address the rights of various segments of our population. But we need to address the rights of children and those from 18 to their early 20s who have already endured trauma and lack the financial and emotional family support to successfully transition to adulthood.

Marilyn Russell, Los Angeles

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To the editor: That female veterans commit suicide at a higher rate than male vets or nonveteran females does not surprise me.

As a volunteer psychotherapist for the Soldiers Project, I have been working intensely with female vets. While my experience is limited, I have come to understand that women are not well treated by their male peers or higher-ups.

Military sexual assault is not the only trauma for many. Their problems are not only the horrors of war but the additional interpersonal stress of being teased, bullied and belittled. Not wanting to appear weak, they try to "suck it up."

For some, the stress and trauma must become overwhelming.

Evelyn Goodman, Culver City

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