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Suicide rate among veterans is 22 a day; Crisis hotline can provide support

Information on a flier about the Veterans Crisis Line. (File photo)

WASHINGTON (WJLA/CNN) - More than half of the 2.6 million veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars struggle with physical and mental health problems stemming from their service, a Washington Post & Kaiser Family Foundation poll found earlier this year.

Whether it’s physical and mental health challenges, financial woes, or what some describe as the “daunting task” of re-assimilating to civilian life, the pressure can be overwhelming.

In fact, 22 veterans kill themselves every day, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

One group that appears to be the most vulnerable to suicides are veterans 50 years and older. According to the VA, 69 percent of veteran suicides come from that age group. However, suicide deaths among younger veterans, age 29 or below, are also increasing.

"Far too often, we're leaving our veterans to fight their toughest battles alone," Sen. John Walsh (D-Montana) told CNN.

Walsh is the first Iraq War combat veteran to serve in the United States Senate.

“I think we do a pretty good job of taking that citizen soldier and making a warrior out of him, but we aren’t doing a very good job of taking that warrior and reintegrating him back into society,” Walsh said.

From 2004 to 2005 Senator Walsh served as a commander for a Montana National Guard unit in Iraq. When the unit returned home, one of his soldiers committed suicide.

“There are a lot of resources out there that will help these young men and women or service members, but we just have to make sure that we get them the help that they need,” Walsh said.

Among those resources is the VA-funded National Veterans Crisis line at 1-800-273-8255, which provides confidential support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to veterans in need.

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