WXXI AM News

Legislation aims to help veterans in crisis

Apr 17, 2019

With an average of 20 veterans dying by suicide each day in the U.S., Congressman Joe Morelle said Wednesday that he’s introducing legislation to make sure the Veterans Administration helps prevent more deaths.

Morelle said the VA received $6.2 million in the 2018 fiscal year to promote its suicide prevention services for veterans. It spent less than a third of that money, he said.

“To only have less than a third of that money spent when 7,000 vets are dying every year is reprehensible,” said Morelle.

Morelle’s “Reach Every Veteran in Crisis Act” would modernize how the VA’s promotes its suicide prevention services to veterans.

Shannon Sander is a veteran and the senior vice commander of the Monroe County Powers Disabled American Veterans Chapter 15. She said several of her friends who are veterans have died by suicide.

“If you’re suffering from depression, if you’re suffering from PTSD, you’re a victim of military sexual trauma, and all you’re getting are doors slammed in your face by the VA and the general public, then you don’t see a way out all the time,” said Sander.

She said promoting the VA’s services is a powerful tool to help.

“The media outreach gives women veterans the face of a woman veteran,” said Sander. “I was in combat. I saw bad things. I have PTSD. I walked down that road. And it was dark. And someone at the VA helped me.”

Veterans who need help are encouraged to contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net.