These lapel pins are awarded to relatives of servicemen and women killed while on active duty.
After leveling off in 2010 and 2011, suicides by active-duty American troops have peaked at nearly one per day so far this year, with 154 lives taken in 155 days, far outstripping the number killed in action in Afghanistan during the same period.
AP via The Huffington Post:
The reasons for the increase are not fully understood. Among explanations, studies have pointed to combat exposure, post-traumatic stress, misuse of prescription medications and personal financial problems. Army data suggest soldiers with multiple combat tours are at greater risk of committing suicide, although a substantial proportion of Army suicides are committed by soldiers who never deployed.
… The 2012 active-duty suicide total of 154 through June 3 compares to 130 in the same period last year, an 18 percent increase. And it’s more than the 136.2 suicides that the Pentagon had projected for this period based on the trend from 2001-2011. This year’s January-May total is up 25 percent from two years ago, and it is 16 percent ahead of the pace for 2009, which ended with the highest yearly total thus far.