WASHINGTON – Five years ago, Joe Miller, an Army Ranger captain with three Iraq tours under his belt, sat at home near Fort Bragg holding a cocked Beretta 40mm, and prepared to kill himself.
He didn't pull the trigger. So Miller's name wasn't added to the list of active-duty military men and women who've committed suicide. That tally reached 350 last year, a record pace of nearly one a day. That's more than the 295 American troops who were killed in Afghanistan in the same year. The U.S. military and the Department of Veterans Affairs are battling the disturbing increase, but administrative backlogs at the VA and the stigma many victims still attach to seeking help with mental issues stand in the way of sweeping action that would sharply decrease the tragic loss of life.