Eighteen American war Veterans  kill themselves every day. One thousand former soldiers receiving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs attempt suicide every month. More veterans are committing suicide than are dying in combat overseas.

These are statistics that most Americans don't know, because the Bush administration has refused to tell them. Since the start of the Iraq War, the government has tried to present it as a war without casualties.

In fact, they never would have come to light were it not for a class action lawsuit brought by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth on behalf of the 1.7 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The two groups allege the Department of Veterans Affairs has systematically denied mental health care and disability benefits to veterans returning from the conflict zones.

The case, officially known as Veterans for Common Sense vs. Peake, went to trial last month at a Federal Courthouse in San Francisco. The two sides are still filing briefs until May 19 and waiting for a ruling from Judge Samuel Conti, but the case is already having an impact.

That's because over the course of the two week trial, the VA was compelled to produce a series of documents that show the extent of the crisis effecting wounded soldiers.

"Shh!" begins one e-mail from Dr. Ira Katz, the head of the VA's Mental Health Division, advising a media spokesperson not to tell CBS News that 1,000 veterans receiving care at the VA try to kill themselves every month.

"Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among the veterans we see in our medical facilities. Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?" the e-mail concludes.

Leading Democrats on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee immediately called for Katz's resignation. On May 6, the Chair of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Bob Filner (D-CA) convened a hearing titled "The Truth About Veteran's Suicides" and called Katz and VA Secretary James Peake to testify.

"That e-mail was in poor tone but the content was part of a dialogue about what we should do about new information," Katz said in response to Filner's questions. "The e-mail represents a healthy dialogue among members of VA staff about when it's appropriate to disclose and make public information early in the process."

Filner was nonplused and accused Katz and Peake of a "cover-up."

"We should all be angry about what has gone on here," Filner said. "This is a matter of life and death for the veterans that we are responsible for and I think there was criminal negligence in the way this was handled. If we do not admit, assume or know then the problem will continue and people will die. If that's not criminal negligence, I don't know what is."

It's also part of a pattern. The high number of veteran suicides weren't the only government statistics the Bush Administration was forced to reveal because of the class action lawsuit.

Another set of documents presented in court showed that in the six months leading up to March 31, a total of 1,467 veterans died waiting to learn if their disability claim would be approved by the government. A third set of documents showed that veterans who appeal a VA decision to deny their disability claim have to wait an average of 1,608 days, or nearly four