Veterans Participate in Suicide Prevention Month

Veterans Participate in Suicide Prevention Month

CONTACT: Carlisle Williams (212) 982-9699 or press@iava.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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Veterans Participate in Suicide Prevention Month 

IAVA joins VA and veterans community to spread awareness of mental health care and to ensure veterans receive the support they need

NEW YORK (September 17, 2013) – During National Suicide Prevention Month in September, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is joining the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Service Organizations, care providers and other advocates to spread awareness of mental health efforts and to help prevent veteran suicide. Suicide prevention remains a top priority for the veterans community and a critical public health issue for the nation. In IAVA’s 2013 Member Survey, 30 percent of members reported that they have considered taking their own life, while 45 percent of respondents know an Iraq or Afghanistan veteran who has attempted suicide.  A recent VA study estimates that 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

Throughout September, veterans and their allies are encouraging service members, military families and their communities to learn more about the warning signs for suicide, and ways to help those who may be in distress. IAVA has launched a Suicide Prevention Awareness Resource Center at http://iava.org/suicideprevention.  This will be an ongoing resource for those in crisis and for those looking to increase their awareness on this issue.

“We still don’t truly know how many veterans take their own life, but we do know that one suicide is too many. Caring for those who bravely fought for our nation and combating military suicides is a national challenge – no one should bear this burden alone. Every day, we must reach out and work to ensure that our veterans receive the support and care they have earned,” said Derek Bennett, Chief of Staff for IAVA.

IAVA works closely with the Veterans Crisis Line to ensure that every service member, veteran, family member and provider knows that there is free and confidential help available 24 hours a day through phone, text and online. Veterans, or those concerned about veterans, can call 800-273-8255 and press 1 to be directly connected to qualified responders.

Additionally, IAVA continues to advocate for policies that address both the physical and mental health of a veteran. IAVA has worked to broaden efforts to connect more veterans to mental health resources and looks for Congress to build upon its work to improve mental health and suicide prevention efforts.  Congress should pass the Servicemember Mental Health Review Act (H.R. 975, S. 628) that would review the seemingly punitive discharges of almost 30,000 veterans who may have had mental health injuries that were overlooked or ignored and now struggle to access the care they need. IAVA also supports the Military Suicide Reduction Act (H.R. 1463) that would ensure veterans are thoroughly evaluated for injuries during their deployments so that, as veterans, they are eligible to receive the care they need for the complex injuries, whether physical or mental, that they have sustained during their service. IAVA also supports the Expedited Hiring for VA Trained Psychiatrists Act of 2013 (H.R. 2540) to help fill the gaps in mental health providers by helping the VA to hire more.  

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 270,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. IAVA recently received the highest rating – four-stars – from Charity Navigator, America’s largest charity evaluator. 

 

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