15. Vietnam Veteran Deaths

While accurate and current statistics from different sources tend to vary, they do agree on one thing -- more than twice as many American Vietnam veterans have died after returning home than were killed in the fourteen years of actual combat. The estimated number of actual combat deaths ranges from 45,806 to 46,520. Data from the Veterans Administration (VA), dated June, 1976, reveals that 101,000 Vietnam veterans have died since returning to civilian life. According to a report for Ralph Nader's Center for the Study of Responsive Law, "Although reliable statistics are not available, suicide appears to be one of the leading causes of deaths among Vietnam veterans in general, and disabled veterans in particular. One other cause rivaling suicide is drug use and the two have much in common -- an overwhelming desire for surcease from pain." While the problems of Vietnamese refugees in America received widespread publicity, the problems of America's returning veterans did not receive comparable coverage. The untold, but continuing story of the tragedy of America's Vietnam veterans qualifies this for nomination as one of the "censored" stories of 1976.

SOURCES:

Combat Deaths: Emergency Ministry for Veteran Services -- 45,806
1977 Reader's Digest Almanac--46,498
1977 World Almanac--46,520

"The Discarded Army" by Paul Starr for Ralph Nader's Center for the Study of Responsive Law.

"The Church and the Returning Veteran" published by Emergency Ministry for Veteran Services; Peter Salerno, Secretary

The United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, 1044 Alta Vista, Louisville, Kentucky 40205