September 29, 2020

Kaine, Wicker Introduce Legislation Recognizing National Veterans Suicide Prevention Day

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation that would designate September 30th as National Veterans Suicide Prevention Day. According to reports, overall military suicides have increased by approximately 20 percent compared to this time last year. The senators’ resolution would highlight the treatable invisible wounds sustained by many servicemembers and recognize the families of veterans who have died by suicide. The resolution is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS). 

“While we must continue working on ways to address this crisis, we must also take the time to recognize the troops we’ve lost and their families,” said Kaine. “I’m hopeful this bill will bring more necessary attention to this issue and offer support and community to more military families who’ve had to endure the tragedy of a veteran suicide.”

“Our nation’s veterans deserve our best care and support, including for their mental health and well-being. On National Veterans Suicide Prevention Day, we will raise awareness of this far too common occurrence and recommit to our goal of reducing suicides among our service members,” Wicker said. 

According to data released by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense, an average of nearly 20 current or former servicemembers die by suicide each day. Additionally, an estimated 135 individuals are affected by each suicide, including family members, friends, and coworkers. 

The resolution is supported by the Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors, American Counseling Association, American Group Psychotherapy Association, American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work, National Association of Social Workers, American Art Therapy Association, American Association of Suicidology, Eating Disorders Coalition, The Kennedy Forum, American Psychological Association, National Association for Behavioral Healthcare, American Dance Therapy Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare. 

Through his work on the Senate Armed Services and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committees, Senator Kaine has been an advocate for investments in mental health services and suicide prevention efforts. Earlier this year, Senator Kaine introduced bipartisan legislation to expand mental health treatment options for veterans to seek innovative therapies to combat PTSD and other mental health issues. Also this year, Kaine requested information from four U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers in Virginia and Washington, D.C. regarding their strategies for preventing suicide among the veterans and families they serve.  

You can read the full text of the resolution here.

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