Report shows increase in military suicides

Posted at 7:08 PM, Jan 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-04 22:08:42-05

New military numbers show there is no progress when it comes to stopping suicides among servicemen and women.

Daniel Somers was a sergeant in the California Army National Guard, and his parents could not have been more proud.

Somers' parents, Howard and Jean, thought he was OK, but he was just hiding his post-war pain.

Before he killed himself in 2013, Somers wrote a note that revealed how much he was suffering.

Howard Somers read from the note: "I'm left in a world with basically nothing. Too trapped in a war to be at peace. Too damaged to be at war."

The letter went on: "Not only am I better off dead, but the world is better off without me in it."

"That is so untrue," Howard Somers said as he looked up from the letter.

He wished he had known what his son was going through, adding "I was utterly distraught."

Jean Somers said her son is the reason they started a nonprofit called Operation Engage America.

"That's why we're out there trying to find all the resources here in San Diego," she explained.

Operation Engage America put on an annual event to educate, offer support and raise awareness. On June 18, they will have as many resources they can get, everything from music therapy to financial guidance, in one place at Liberty Station.

"Everything, basically, that we're doing we wish that we had done with Daniel," Howard said.

Still, it has not improved. On Monday, the Department of Defense issued a report about military suicides. It showed 202 active duty servicemen and women killed themselves during the first three quarters of 2015. That is two more than the same period from 2014.

Howard and Jean Somers want the DOD to put as much effort into transitioning out of the military as it does recruiting and training. They also think loved ones need to be a part of the process.

"What if we would have tried this? What if we would have tried that?" Jean questioned.

"The world is so much worse off that Daniel's not here," Howard added. "So much worse off."

They will keep fighting to save other servicemen and women so they can spare other parents from the agony of burying a child. Because of that, for at least some families, the world may be better off because of Daniel Somers. Learn more about Operation Engage America at