An Afghanistan War veteran and former New York Republican candidate for U.S. Congress died Tuesday, according to multiple news reports.
Kyle Van De Water, 41, was found in the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery in New York by Town of Poughkeepsie Police. His death is being investigated as a “likely suicide,” according to the Mid-Hudson News.
Van De Water’s death came only 11 days after he withdrew his 2022 Republican candidacy for U.S. Congress. This was the second time that he ran for New York’s 19th congressional seat after being defeated by Democratic incumbent Antonio Delgado in November 2020.
Delgado, now a U.S. representative for the district, responded to the news of Van De Water’s death with a statement:
May God rest Kyle’s soul. And may God bless his family. pic.twitter.com/5brIW5cesM
— Congressman Antonio Delgado (@repdelgado) September 7, 2021
On Aug. 27 — which was about six weeks after he had originally decided to enter the race, according to his social media statements — Van De Water posted three tweets, all announcing his abrupt withdrawal. “Unfortunately, circumstances in my life have changed and I am no longer able to give 110% towards this endeavor,” he wrote.
Unfortunately, circumstances in my life have changed and I am no longer able to give 110% towards this endeavor.
— Kyle Van De Water (@Kyle4Congress) August 27, 2021
For the good of the party, and the district, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy. I look forward to vigorously and enthusiastically supporting the GOP candidate in 2022.
— Kyle Van De Water (@Kyle4Congress) August 27, 2021
“For the good of the party, and the district,” Van De Water continued, “I have decided to withdraw my candidacy.”
Afghanistan War veteran and former New York congressional candidate Kyle Van De Water 41, died suddenly on Tuesday, according to local officials. Police sources said his death is being investigated as a suicide, according to the Mid Hudson News. ? pic.twitter.com/vhKXqi10SA
— Sumner (@diamondlass99) September 8, 2021
Van De Water earned his Army commission through the ROTC program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst when he graduated in 2002, according to his campaign website. He then went on to serve in the U.S. Army Reserves while studying law at Albany Law School.
Soon after graduating in 2005, he became an active duty officer in the Judge Advocate General Corps. He was stationed at West Point, working as an administrative law attorney, before his Afghanistan deployment where he earned a Bronze Star in 2011.
He received an honorable discharge from active service in 2014 with the rank of major and continued to serve as a JAG officer in the Army Reserves.
Van De Water practiced civilian law at Corbally, Gartland and Rappleyea, LLP in Poughkeepsie, New York, as a litigation associate until February 2021. No information was available about his subsequent employment.
Van De Water’s death puts a spotlight on veteran suicide in the United States. September has been declared National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month since 2008, making the timing particularly tragic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported suicide is the 10th leading cause of death across the U.S. Data collected in 2019 showed that over 47,500 deaths occurred, which amounts to “one death every 11 minutes.”
The number of people who think about killing themselves or making an attempt is even higher. The CDC reported that in 2019, 12 million adults thought seriously about it, 3.5 million devised a plan and 1.4 million actually followed through with an attempt.
But according to the Veteran Affairs Department’s 2020 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, the suicide rate of veterans is 1.5 times higher than that of non-veteran adults.
Veterans were hit particularly hard over the last two weeks in August. Since the Taliban took control of Kabul in August, the Veteran’s Crisis Line has seen a 98 percent surge in texts compared to the same two week period a year ago, the Stars and Stripes reported.
This is “a sign,” Military.com reported, “that veterans experienced significant stress as the war in Afghanistan came to a close.”
While details have not been officially released, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro told the Mid-Hudson News that Van De Water was “a war hero who put his life and well-being on the line for his country. We owe him, his family, and all of our brave servicemen and women everything for the sacrifices they have made.”
Molinara also had an urgent message for servicemen and women “who struggle upon returning home and anyone who may be struggling with this news, please know that help is always available to you.”
For any veteran who is suffering from thoughts of suicide or stress, the Veterans Crisis Line can be reached every day, around the clock by phone at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1) or a text to 838-255 or via the Veterans Crisis Line’s website.
The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support and crisis intervention, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online. Learn more: https://t.co/mt5IA2cCND pic.twitter.com/aZf22wsvrd
— Veterans Affairs (@DeptVetAffairs) September 8, 2021
Major Van De Water is survived by his wife, Melissa, and their four children, which include the middle school-aged triplets — Thomas, Lincoln, and Annabelle — and Levi, according to The Register Star.
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