Iraq War Veteran Senator Addresses National Crisis.
As we’ve been reporting on this blog for far too long, the suicide epidemic among our Veterans still plagues the nation. As the Seattle Times reported, this crisis cuts across generations of men and women who have served our country.
As the Washington Post revealed last week, 22 veterans killed themselves each day in 2010, compared with 18 per day in 2007, according to the latest figures available from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
But there is promising new legislation that seeks to bring that alarming number down by addressing the pressing mental health needs of Veterans.
The proposal, S 2182, the “Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act,” was introduced late last month by U.S. Senator John Walsh (D-MT), the first Iraq War Veteran to serve in the Senate.
IAVA Supports New Bill
The non-profit organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and its founder Paul Rieckhoff developed and promoted the legislation, whose goal is to improve access to mental health care.
The bill would extend special deployment healthcare eligibility from five years to 15 years. IAVA notes that for a quarter of veterans, the mental traumas and invisible injuries of war do not appear for 10 to 12 years, long after free care for combat veterans expires.
The legislation also seeks to ensure health-care providers are trained to identify Veterans at risk of suicide, and that agencies provide seamless care from drug formularies to electronic records.
We owe it to our Veterans to pass this legislation and do whatever we can to make sure that our physically and mentally wounded warriors are taken care of after they return home.