Editor: Many veterans face extreme mental distress after serving our country. This distress manifests itself in many forms, such as severe depression, which tragically in some cases leads to suicide.
Just last year, a study by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that roughly 20 veterans a day commit suicide. The problem of veteran suicide has become all too pervasive and we have an obligation to do what we can to mitigate this problem. Fortunately, our representative, Barbara Comstock, is co-sponsoring legislation designed to combat the crisis of veteran suicide.
The Veteran Suicide Prevention Act would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct a thorough review of the deaths of veterans who committed suicide. In addition to listing the total number of veterans’ deaths which are suicides, the review would contain a multitude of information identifying risk factors for suicide, to include a complete list of the medications prescribed to and consumed by such veterans, the percentage of such veterans who have combat experience or trauma, and Veterans Health Administration facilities with disproportionately high rates of suicide among veterans. Most importantly, this review would provide the Department of Veterans Affairs with recommendations aimed at improving mental healthcare at the VA and thus improve the safety and well-being of veterans and their families. Also, all we can learn about mental health will broaden the bank of knowledge for the general population as well.
I want to commend Rep. Comstock for once again being at the forefront in promoting veterans’ welfare. She has supported a variety of important bills pertaining to veterans, including the Veterans Mobility Safety Act and she cosponsored the Hire More Heroes Act and the SALUTE Act. Rep. Comstock has made it her top priority to advocate for and assist those who have served our country in uniform and stands firmly behind our nation’s veterans.
Mackie Christenson, Leesburg