While a number of nonprofit groups offer suicide or crisis hotline help for veterans and civilians alike, giving returning troops as many options as possible is a good thing. The newly-introduced legislation was strongly supported by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's Washington, D.C., crew; lets thank Rep. Jim Moran [D-VA] and IAVA for moving move this forward.
From Rep. Moran's press release:
“Our vets deserve as much support when they return from combat as they got while in battle,” said Moran. “For too many of our veterans, the psychological ravages of war make adjusting back to society extremely difficult. Those struggling emotionally need someone they can talk to, who’s walked a mile in their shoes. This hotline will offer a caring voice at the end of the line when it feels like there’s no where else to turn.”
Each year, approximately 115,300 veterans attempt suicide, accounting for nearly one in five suicide attempts in the entire nation. To date, over 450,000 veterans have a service-connected disability due to mental illness. A staggering 20 percent of soldiers returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom have experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. These men and women are at an elevated risk for suicide attempts.
Known as the “Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline Act of 2007” (H.R. 2219), the legislation would create a 24-hour national toll-free hotline to assist our nation’s veterans in crisis. It would be staffed by professionals (predominately veterans) trained to work with members of the Armed Services. A grant in the amount of $2,500,000 for FY ‘08, ‘09 and ’10 would be made available to a qualified non-profit to establish, publicize, and operate the hotline.
“Too many Veterans come home suffering from psychological wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” confirmed Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of Iraq & Afghanistan Vets for America. “Establishing a Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline is a crucial step toward making sure veterans receive the help they need in a time of crisis. IAVA commends Rep. Moran for supporting this important and potentially life-saving legislation.”