Combat Does Not Cause Suicide - Bad Discharges Do


Operation Vet Fit


Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC 20500


Honorable Donald J. Trump

President-elect of the United States

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President and Mr. President-elect:

Our agency has recently converged data furnished by the Journal of the American Medical Association (Reger, Smolenski, Skopp et. al., 2015) and the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA, 2016 & Thompson, 2016), which appear to show the key causes of veteran suicide is not war, not post traumatic stress disorder, and not the quality of care received at the Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, but rather lack of access to VA services and post service educational benefits as a direct result of improper Department of Defense administration practices which led to veterans’ statuses of discharges of “less than honorable”, which result in ineligibility for these vital programs and services. 

As a direct result of this recent convergence of information I write to echo the urgent request of the Vietnam Veterans of America, High Ground Veterans Advocacy, Fairness for Veterans and the broad bipartisan network of Congressional leaders to put an end to the social plague of veteran suicide through the use of the power vested in the office of the President.

Doing so now will help the most vulnerable veterans in our country by pardoning all Post-9/11 veterans with PTSD who were administratively separated, resulting in a less-than-honorable discharge without the due process of a court-martial; and to request that President-elect Trump commit the full support of his incoming administration for this executive action. Every day delayed, twenty veterans kill themselves.

The summary of findings and conclusions are based on the two studies (Reger et al., 2015; Thompson, 2016 & VA, 2016), which incorporate the data of over 50 million veteran records in one study and nearly 4 million in the other.  The convergence of the findings of these two studies demonstrate that the highest suicide risk population of veterans are those that have served less than four years, that were discharged under less than honorable conditions, that have not enrolled in VA services and have not attained a four year college education or higher.

In short, the cause and solution to the dilemma of veteran suicide lay squarely in the wrongful determination of the character of a veteran’s service to his or her country. Many times this is the direct result of behavioral outcomes associated with undiagnosed combat PTSD and at other times it is the result of a non-judicial system of governance that fails to effectively weigh the long-term outcome of poorly crafted administrative decisions that fall outside of the scope of proper due process (Goldsmith, 2016).


Respectfully Submitted,

Daniel R. Gaita, MA

Veteran, United States Marine Corps

Founder & Director, Operation Vet Fit

University of Southern California Graduate Student,

Clinical Masters in Social Work, Military Families


Cited Sources

Goldsmith, K.S., Russel, J. (2016) Resorting Honor to Veterans with Invisible Injuries. High Ground for Vets. Available online:

Reger, M.A., Smolenski, D. J.,  Skopp, N. A., Metzger-Abamukang, M. J., Kang, H. K., Bullman, T. A., Perdue, S., & Gahm, G. A. (2015) Risk of Suicide Among US Military Service Members Following Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom Deployment and Separation From the US Military. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015; 72(6):561-569. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3195 Published online April 1, 2015.

Thompson (2016) VA Suicide Prevention Program Facts about Veteran Suicide July 2016 Available online:

VA (2016) VA Office of Suicide Prevention. Suicide Among Veterans and Other Americans. US Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC. Available online: