Houston VA clinic tackles veteran suicide epidemic

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Army vet Aaron Coker saw combat in Iraq. He's a resident at the PTSD Foundation of America's Camp Hope in northwest Houston. Does he think vets talk about suicide a lot?

"Absolutely. Probably eight out of ten veterans that I've talked to at some point have talked about taking their own lives." he says.

Some vets say they've lost more buddies here to suicide than to combat. The Veterans Administration has gotten more aggressive in tackling the suicide epidemic. The Houston VA now has five suicide prevention counselors. The VA increased staffing of it's prevention hotline and is taking steps to identify vets at risk. 

According to its newly released study in 2014, 20 vets a day committed suicide. That's according to what it says is a precise tabulation of the deaths. It's a decline from 22 a day in 2010,  however suicides among female vets are trending the other way.

"Female rates have gone it a bit in the last couple of years so we're looking at that.. We don't know why it's is going up that way." says suicide prevention counselor Brent Arnspiger.

The rate of female vets is twice as high as female civilians. Some vets believe it's because more female vets have PTSD after being thrust into combat roles. David Maulsby with the PTSD Foundation of America says he's not sure the new VA report is all that accurate.

"My first reaction is that I hope the numbers are going down. That it is accurate but when they talk about precise tabulation that's impossible."

He says he's seeing numbers increase but that might not reflect a national trend.

Up or down.. they both agree with Coker on one thing.

"My personal opinion? Whatever the numbers are it's too high." he says.