Lawmakers push for expanded veteran suicide prevention funding, programs

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WASHINGTON- Twenty veterans die by suicide each day in America and the crisis hits close to home for Senator John Boozman.

“Since I’ve been in the Senate, 2010, we still have about 20 a day,” said Sen. John Boozman, (R) Arkansas.

“Just this month in Arkansas alone, a veteran of the National Guard, along with two current National Guard members and a member of the Army Reserve, took their own lives. Our approach simply isn’t working,” Boozman said.

Over the past decade, Congress has increased funding for mental health and suicide prevention at the Veteran’s Administration.

But the department says of the 20 veteran suicides each day most received no treatment or care from the VA.

That’s why lawmakers want to connect veterans with thousands of other organizations available to them.

“It will ensure that no veteran slips through the cracks,” said Sen. Jon Tester, (D) Montana.

Tester has worked across party lines with Boozman on legislation to fund suicide prevention and emergency care through VA grants to nonprofits and community programs.

“It would send an important message not only to the veterans but also to the American public that we can come together during political turbulent times to do what’s right,” said Tester.

Amid the partisan impeachment trial, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee prided itself on unanimously approving the comprehensive bill.

The new committee chair – Senator Jerry Moran- says expanding access to veteran mental health services is his top priority.

“Allowing them to pursue their dreams the way they’ve allowed the rest of us in our country to pursue our dreams,” said Moran, (R) Kansas.

The legislation now moves to the full Senate.

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