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  • Air Force Can’t Get Its Suicide Rate Under Control

    The Air Force is having a difficult time bringing down its suicide rate, and the service is struggling in vain to find a solution.

    Suicides have only increased slightly, according to a Department of Defense report released in early 2015, but any increase comes off as disturbing because officials aren’t sure how to reduce the rate, Military.com reports.

    Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody said Monday at the Air Force Associations Air and Space Conference that in terms of lowering the number of suicides, the service wasn’t doing enough.

    “We’re struggling with it,” Cody said. “We lose too many airmen. We lose far too many airmen. I wish I had a good answer on how to get out of this.”

    The 2014 Defense Department 4th Quarter Suicide Information Report determined that there were 59 active-duty suicides in the Air Force. This is the highest on record, at least since the early 2000s, which is when the Air Force began taking detailed information on suicides.

    One potential option Cody discussed is reexamining quality of life programs and the strain of an incredibly fast-paced tempo of operations over the past decade, which has matched the steadily rising suicide rate across the military. Interestingly, 68 percent of airmen suicides come from airmen who have not deployed, then-Air Force Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones said in 2011.

    “We just don’t have a good track record with it,” Cody said. “What we have is a track record of pushing people beyond what’s reasonable and sustainable. We’re going to lose our best people if we don’t get this right.”

    But budget cuts make quality of life programs difficult to fund. In February, Cody testified before the House Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs to discuss this exact issue. With 670,000 members, the Air Force is the smallest it’s ever been since 1947, but demands on time and energy over the past decade have skyrocketed.

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