Sen. Marshall Praises Progress Made to Reduce Veteran Suicides
(Washington, D.C., September 20, 2021) – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. today released a statement praising recent findings from the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) annual report showing a decrease in veteran suicides by 7 percent in 2019 – the lowest in 12 years – and calling for increased awareness for veteran mental health in light of America’s recent military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Our nation’s heroes fought valiantly and risked their lives in countless battles throughout history. Unfortunately, many of those who returned home endured countless wounds – both physical and emotional – which put an immense toll on them and their families. As a veteran, then a physician, and now a Senator, I understand both the complexity and severity of veteran suicide. This is why I continue to work with the VA and local veterans groups to bring awareness and help connect veterans and their organizations with available resources,” said Senator Marshall. “While we still have a long way to go, I am proud to see that in 2019, veteran suicides reached the lowest rate in 12 years. However, we must continue to do more to help our American heroes – for they all are truly the best of America. People often ask me what they can do to help, and the truth is veterans need to be a part of a team when they exit the military. Giving veterans a job is a huge first step, as well as making sure they are plugged into the local community. If you or a veteran you know is in a crisis, please don’t hesitate to call the Veteran’s Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.”
Senator Marshall recentlypenned an op-ed for the Manhattan Mercury highlighting the invaluable service of veterans and servicemembers who deployed to Afghanistan. He also encouraged his fellow Americans to check in on veterans and Gold Star family members following America’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Click HERE to read the op-ed in its entirety.
As a veteran, physician, and policymaker, Senator Marshall has actively worked to improve the lives of veterans in Kansas and across the nation. More recently, he supported the passage of Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act. This new law will help employ veterans to train service dogs while simultaneously improving veterans’ mental health issues associated with PTSD and other service-related trauma. In addition, he joined a group of bipartisan Senators calling on the VA to quickly and proactively reach out to veterans of the Global War on Terrorism on available mental health services and resources. The Senator’s letter highlighted the brave men and women who served in Afghanistan. To learn more about Senator’s Marshall’s work helping veterans, you may click HERE.
The Department of Veterans Affairs releases the National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, the country’s largest analysis of veteran suicide rates each year. It also highlights mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders. Released this week, the latest 2021 report states that overall veteran suicide count and rate decreased in 2019 from 2018 and from 2017. Specifically, there were 6,261 veteran suicide deaths which was nearly 400 fewer than in the previous year. However, veteran suicide rates were still substantially higher than non-veteran adults.
The decrease in veteran suicides rates is attributed to exhaustive efforts in prioritizing health care delivery reforms. In 2018, the VA announced an interagency plan to implement then-President Trump’s executive order supporting veterans with mental health care and suicide-prevention resources during their transition from uniformed service to civilian life. Under the plan, the VA launched new pilot programs and campaigns to increase the health and wellness of former servicemembers. Notably, they established public-private partnerships with the American Physical Therapy Association, Independence Fund, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, and many others to increase access to available resources.
Last year, the Administration continued this work while also addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2020, the VA launched the COVID Coach app, a new app designed to help both veterans and civilians cope with feelings of stress and anxiety they may be experiencing. And by December, the VA announced the completion of all 2020 priorities established under the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS). The roadmap aims to end suicide through seamless access to care, a connected research ecosystem, and robust community engagement aimed at changing the culture around mental health.