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    Older Men Die by Suicide at Steep Rates. Here’s How the VA Is Trying to Change That

    Older Men Die by Suicide at Steep Rates. Here's How the VA Is Trying to Change That

    LOS ANGELES — It was a Friday morning and George McCune had roused himself to make the 2.4-mile trip from his Northridge home to the Veterans Affairs campus in North Hills.

    The 77-year-old was greeted there that March day by the usual crew training for the Golden Age Games: There was Roger, 82, who had piled up medals in javelin, discus and shot put. Bob, who had just gotten his cochlear implant. Becky, 71, bent on defeating her “nemesis” — a guy just six days her junior — in pingpong.

    McCune can be reclusive, he said. He has grappled with post-traumatic stress disorder, he said, although he was never able to get formally diagnosed. Silent meditation is more of his usual speed than socializing.

    Yet McCune routinely joins his teammates in the gym and on the track. He has yet to attend the Golden Age Games, a national competition for veterans 55 and older, but trains five days a week with the Greater Los Angeles team. That Friday, he had circled the track for 46 minutes, a goal he chose for the year of his birth.

    And “more than the physical stuff is the mental stuff,” he said, “of getting me to interact with people.”

    This might not be what you envision as “mental health” care, let alone “suicide prevention.” But at the VA, getting older veterans such as McCune together to hit the track is part of a broader push to improve their lives — and possibly even to save them.

    Older men in the United States have been at growing risk. When…

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