Veterans Affairs Committee Passes Bill Promoting Suicide Prevention

:: Update ::

Charlie, Mike Hassinger, and I spoke with Senator Isakson about this bill on Friday’s edition of Peach Pundit Radio. The interview will be rebroadcast on Saturday, January 24th at 9 AM on Talk Radio 640 WGST, or you can listen in here.

It didn’t take long for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to get down to business. In its first official meeting under new Chairman Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson, the committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to pass the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. The bill now heads towards a full Senate vote. It was passed by the House earlier this month, and Senator Isakson hopes the bill will become the first one President Obama signs in 2015.

Following committee passage of the bill, Isakson said,

When you have 8,000 veterans a year committing suicide – which is more veterans than have died in all of Iraq and all of Afghanistan since we’ve been fighting – then you have a serious problem and this is emergency legislation that we need to pass to help our veterans.

Stars and Stripes has some background on the bill’s history, and what it will do for America’s veterans:

Veteran groups and Clay Hunt’s parents have backed the measure since it was first introduced last year. Hunt served in Iraq and Afghanistan and struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, becoming one of the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day.

Despite widespread support among lawmakers, the bill failed in the last congressional session because retiring budget hawk Tom Coburn blocked a final vote in the Senate. The Oklahoma Republican had objected to the $22 million price tag, which supporters say is small in terms of the federal budget.

Isakson, who is a veteran himself, has been on the Veteran’s Affairs Committee since being sworn in a a Senator in 2005. Named committee chair this year following the Republicans winning the Senate majority, Isakson pledged bipartisanship for the committee’s actions.

As I’ve said many times in Atlanta at the VA hospital, we don’t just have Republican veterans and Democrat veterans, we have American veterans. This committee is about serving the veterans of the United States of America regardless of their race, creed, color, national origin or their political affiliation. This is going to be the most bipartisan committee in the United States Senate because … those that sacrifice themselves for our country need to be rewarded with the best possible health care available and the best services from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

For more information on the issue of veterans’ suicides, and how veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan eras have a higher risk of suicide, the Hartford Courant has some in-depth information.

8 comments

  1. saltycracker says:

    Works on your head when you are sent to a country of a vastly different culture that isn’t going to help itself, many don’t give a hoot if you die and your main mission is to keep yourself and your buddies alive while avoiding collateral deaths.

    High tech bomb it.

    • Will Durant says:

      Or just let other countries run it their damn selves. The primary job of a soldier throughout history is to become an efficient killer, not a policeman, or politician. We ask them to take the lives of others at the risk of their own. This should not be asked as lightly or as often as we have done in our recent history.

      Doing it by remote control may be easier on the current personnel but it is only a matter of time before the same will be returned upon us in kind.

  2. Andrew C. Pope says:

    This bill should have passed in December. Now that Tom Coburn has mercifully retired, this thing can pass and we can get in-need vets some much needed help.

  3. John Konop says:

    This bill also represents a major struggle in society….we have to many people who do not realize mental illness is not something you just toughen up and get over it…..Could you imagine a person comes in with a broken leg, scarlet fever……and the doctor said hey just toughen up and get over it without proper treatment…..We as a society must realize mental illness is a health medical issue….and needs to be treated like any other health issue.

    • saltycracker says:

      Does it get at the root problem ? Are these mentally ill vets primarily combat soldiers trying to survive where the natives are hostile and their mission confused ?
      Sometines you just need to stop kicking your bird dog.

      • John Konop says:

        You and I both agree about issues with our foriegn policy….yes I agree it is a big factor..the mental issues they face are real… I have 2 friends with PTSD….trust me it is very real….the toughen up BS…..without treatment does not work….you are right we must deal with root cause….but we also must treat mental illness as a real health issue….

        • saltycracker says:

          Agree with the idea of mental help and mental institutions but don’t have a good idea on how to do it as past institutions were a mess. Most of this hoo-rah for the troops is a public guilt trip and they’ll be the first to distance themselves. The last war we won was WWII. No problem with the strongest military in the world just a problem with its leadership.

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