In February, the George W. Bush Institute held a seminar on post-9-11 veterans.
Washington again has gone political over a failure of government — excessive wait times for veterans' health care and deciding vets' disability claims. As with the Great Recession, lawmakers are passing around far more blame than solutions or admissions of mistakes.
"If you look at me, you would see just a normal young guy who is pretty big, but I am pretty limited in what I can do, and the pain that keeps me from enjoying life is pretty frustrating," explains retired Army Sgt. Josh Renschler, who suffered a severe back and brain injury in Iraq during his first tour. It happened on Valentines Day in 2004, catapulting Renschler away from the frontlines and onto a new battlefield: advocating for veterans' care.
Nearly two dozen veterans commit suicide every day, and their parents won’t let Congress forget it.
At a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Thursday, legislators promised, once again, to improve the system for the men and women who must rely on VA mental health care.
In emotional testimony, the parents of three young men who committed suicide described their sons’ struggles to see mental health care specialists, fill prescriptions, and navigate crowded, labyrinthine VA medical campuses.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday to help prevent veteran suicides and reform the way the Veterans Affairs Department treats those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act is sponsored by House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), and Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).
Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz Thursday has introduced a bill to help combat veteran suicides.
Walz, a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, unveiled the legislation at a news conference with the mother of former Marine Clay Hunt, who committed suicide in 2011 after serving two combat tours, one apiece in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An estimated 22 veterans killed themselves every day in 2010, up from 18 per day in 2007, according to the latest figures from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
After two deployments with the Marine Corps left him depressed, anxious and unable to hold a job, Sgt. Clay Hunt appealed his 30 percent disability rating with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The VA approved his appeal on the post-traumatic stress diagnosis 18 months later, but it was too late for the 28-year-old former infantryman and sniper. He died March 31, 2011, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
ABC News’ Alexander Mallin and Jake Lefferman report:
In an emotional House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing today, a panel of parents decried failures in the VA and the Department of Defense as contributing to the mental pressures that led their sons to kill themselves.
“Perhaps none of these hearings have presented the all-too-human face of VA’s failures so much as today’s hearing will,” committee chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said.