Veterans’ groups push lawmakers for better mental health care funding

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WASHINGTON- This week, veterans’ groups in Washington are pushing Congress to make veterans’ issues a top priority, especially mental health problems.

“I think the hardest part is just, one accepting what it is that I was suffering from,” said veteran Sergio Alfaro.

Army veteran Sergio Alfaro has dealt with PTSD for more than 15 years since he served in Iraq. He shared the story of his struggles with lawmakers this week in Washington.

“These are things that hamper your life and prevent you from living the life you would want to live and finding the happiness that I believe all Americans are entitled to,” said Alfaro.

Veterans groups, including the Wounded Warrior Project, laid out their legislative priorities to Congress this week.

“There’s so much more that we can do at the federal level, the state level, the local level,” Rep. Jim Banks, (R) Indiana.

Banks, a former service member himself, sits on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and wants to get veterans more individual help.

“Whether its veteran service officers in local communities or suicide prevention coordinators at the VA,” said Banks.

The rate of veteran suicides continues to climb, presenting a challenge to Congress as to the best way to tackle the problem.

“There’s not much that Washington can do rather than leverage resources that we have to help really important programs at the local level,” Banks said.

Alfaro knows his own story is his most effective weapon—sharing it to help his fellow service members.

“I’m able to get the message across to these people that there are still so many veterans that are still suffering,” said Alfaro. “The more we’re able to take on this mission that we have now, the more it’s going to help everyone else.”

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