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National Veterans Foundation
Lifeline for Vets 888-777-4443
Lifeline for Vets 888-777-4443

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When Eric Greitens visited his fellow Navy SEALs who had been wounded in Iraq, one of their worries about post-military life surprised him.

"Every single one of them said he wanted to find a way to continue to serve," Greitens said. "They needed to know that when they came home, we saw them as vital."

In the weeks after that 2007 visit to the military hospital in Bethesda, Md., Greitens founded the Mission Continues, a nonprofit helping military veterans make the often rocky transition to civilian life by placing them in six-month stints with nonprofit agencies that have a high sense of civic purpose.

Starting that summer, the St. Louis-based program, with Greitens as chief executive, chief fundraiser and spokesman, has placed 609 veterans with agencies from California to New York and beyond.

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SUICIDES IN THE U.S. military rose in 2012 to a record high of 349, with more personnel dying by their own hand than on the battlefield. The numbers are a grim reminder of the challenge that suicide has long posed for the military — and they should lend urgency to the Pentagon’s efforts to combat this insidious problem.

The 349 suicides among active-duty troops exceeded not only the 2011 total of 301 but also the Pentagon’s internal projection for the year of 325. By comparison, The Post’s Ernesto Londoño wrote, 229 troops were killed in combat in Afghanistan last year. The number of suicides, which is subject to revision as the 2012 deaths are fully investigated, is the highest since 2001, when defense officials began keeping track. The military suicide rate is below that of the general civilian population, but the rising rate — even as the Pentagon has made suicide prevention a priority, with the establishment of numerous mental health initiatives — has unsettled military officials. “Epidemic” is the word used by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others.

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Report: New vets showing Gulf War illness symptoms

This may be the first time symptoms are linked to current Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be suffering from the 20-year-old set of symptoms known as Gulf War Illness, according to a new report released Wednesday by the federal Institute of Medicine.

"Preliminary data suggest that (chronic multisymptom illness) is occurring in veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well," the report says.

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