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Monday, November 05, 2007

Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Bill Signed by President

From the Associated Press:

President Bush signed the Joshua Omvig suicide prevention bill on Monday, providing improved screening and treatment for at-risk veterans. The law is named after a 22-year-old soldier from Grundy Center, Iowa, who committed suicide in December 2005 after he returned from Iraq. ...

The new law comes amid growing concerns over mental health issues borne by veterans who have seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VA Inspector General, in a report last May, said Veterans Health Administration officials estimate 1,000 suicides per year among veterans receiving care within VHA and as many as 5,000 per year among all living veterans.

Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, who sponsored the bill, commended Omvig's parents for their sacrifice and support of the new law.

"While suffering this personal tragedy, they went on to help other veterans and their families and have advocated for improving all mental health services at the VA," Boswell said.

In educational interest, article(s) quoted from extensively.

From the Des Moines Register:

Under the bill, the government is directed to develop and carry out a comprehensive program aimed at reducing suicide among veterans. Mandatory training for staff would be put in place, and veterans would be offered mental health screening and referrals, at their request, for counseling and treatment.

Mental health care would be available on a 24-hour basis, including a toll-free hotline, and additional research conducted into suicide prevention among veterans, including for those who experienced sexual trauma in the service.

Family outreach and peer counseling is encouraged under the legislation, with a special emphasis on removing the stigma associated with mental illness and promoting skills for veterans in dealing with mental illness.

A great achievement by the Omvigs and their supporters -- and they have many, many of those. They have consistently brought real help to those who need it most through their work on the Joshua Omvig Memorial website and their highly-recommended Yahoo group, Support Loved Ones of Military Suicides (SLOOMS).

Thank you falls short, but I'll say it nonetheless.

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