Veterans advocates say there’s momentum in the battle against suicide with several bills pending in Congress, including one influenced by a grieving family in Coronado.
The legislation, which applies to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, addresses the higher suicide rate among female veterans and the mental health care needs of vets privy to classified material.
On the first anniversary of a landmark law focusing on suicide among post-9/11 troops, the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America said it sees willingness in Washington, D.C., to change the VA — especially after recent national scandals over medical wait times and a backlog of disability claims.
“When I first started working on Capitol Hill on veterans issues 20 years ago, you didn’t have anywhere near the amount of interest and passion that you do now,” said Thomas Porter, legislative director of the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans organization.
His group put its muscle behind the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, signed in February 2015. The bill launched a pilot program to attract more psychiatrists to the VA. It also directed creation of a one-stop resources website and an annual evaluation of VA mental health and suicide-prevention programs.
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