A veteran dies in Mankato

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A Minnesota State University student shot himself to death in the university library on Monday afternoon and, for the most part, the news was met with a shrug. If there’s one thing we’ve gotten used to in Minnesota, it’s shootings. To the extent most media cared, it was only to point out that no other students were in danger.

His name was Timothy Lee Anderson of Mankato. He was 27 years old. He was a philosophy major.

He was also a veteran of the war in Iraq, the Mankato Free Press reported (link fixed).

Incredibly, on the paper’s website, editor Joe Spears had to defend why that fact is important.

We present facts. He was a veteran. This is a huge national issue. It’s relevant that he was a veteran. We can look into this further and will. Chantel is correct. There is no connection stated right now. You are interpreting that. This is a national issue that The Free Press takes very seriously.

We will explore all avenues. Suicide is an emotional issue. We can appreciate that. But to stick our head in the sand, as we interpret what you suggest, is something we will never do. And quite frankly, I’ve dealt with suicide in my personal life so I do not accept your suggesting we are somehow “profiting”

The article doesn’t state that Anderson’s death and his military service were related. But several readers used their allotment of daily outrage to protest the inclusion of military service.

Maybe the two are connected. Maybe the two aren’t. But it’s undeniable that systemically, the link is proven.

Twenty-two veterans a day take their own lives. Two out of every five veterans knows a vet who has taken his or her own life, the New York Times says today.

A bill to address veterans suicide is heading to the White House after passing both the House and Senate, with just about every congressperson saluting it, just a month or so after it was blocked.

And it includes a provision extending by one year the period under which returning late-stage combat troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan can obtain Veterans Affairs health care without first proving a service-related disability. That part applies to troops who left active duty from Jan. 1, 2009, to Jan. 1, 2011; normally veterans have only five years of access to the care for conditions not medically proven to have been attributable to their service.

Government data shows that the suicide rate for male veterans who are enrolled in Veterans Affairs health care fell slightly from 2006 to 2010, while the rate for other veterans rose. Yet among male veterans ages 18 to 24, the suicide rate for even those enrolled jumped from 46.1 per 100,000 in 2009 to 79.1 per 100,000 two years later. Since its start in 2007, the department’s Veterans Crisis Line — 1-800-273-8255 — has taken nearly 1.4 million calls and helped make more than 42,000 rescues of veterans contemplating suicide.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tim Walz of Mankato.

Archive: A Veteran’s Death, the Nation’s Shame (NY Times).

Brian Williams’ sacrifice (NewsCut).