Ryan Britch | March 24, 2020
Read: Combat Suicide
IAVA Government Affairs Associate, Ryan Britch shares insights on combating suicide among troops and veterans.
“62% of IAVA members personally know a veteran who died by suicide, a 22% rise since 2014” — quoted from IAVA’s 10th ANNUAL MEMBER SURVEY
In 2011, IAVA Member and Marine Corps veteran, Clay Hunt, tragically lost his battle with post traumatic stress. IAVA immediately went to work advocating for an appropriate response to the crisis of 20 military and veterans dying every day from suicide. IAVA led the fight toward the successful passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act to bolster VA mental health programs in 2015.
For nearly a decade IAVA has called for immediate action by our nation’s leaders, and thanks to the courage and leadership of veterans, military family members, and our allies, there has been progress. VA has invested millions of dollars: expanding the Veterans Crisis Line, hiring suicide prevention coordinators, campaigning to destigmatize mental illness, and even developing a predictive analytics program to reach out to at-risk veterans.
However, suicide rates continue to climb in the military and veteran community. In our latest Member Survey, 67% of IAVA members reported knowing a post-9/11 veteran who attempted suicide, and 62% know a post-9/11 veteran that died by suicide. It is also important to note that 44% report suicidal ideation since joining the military, a shocking 13% rise since 2014.
IAVA has been hard at work advocating for the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act (S. 785), a multifaceted approach to connect more veterans with the mental health care they have earned and deserve. The bill will improve VA care by bolstering the VA’s mental health workforce and increasing access to VA care for hard-to-reach veterans, while making sure veterans have access to complementary and alternative treatment options like animal therapy, outdoor sports and activities, yoga, and acupuncture.
Every day, we are losing more of our brothers and sisters to suicide. This is not the time for America to let up. Instead, this is a time to redouble our efforts as a nation and answer the call to action. And IAVA will continue to maintain our leadership on that charge. You can help us in this fight. Contact Congress and Take Action Here.