Veteran Suicides

Senators Harkin and Feingold Introduce Veteran Suicide Tracking Bill plus a study indicates that TBI vets need more care

I was hoping that Jim Staro would post more information about this... just saw it via the Vets4Politics

This is a straight blockquote, but I thought the one comment on the Des Moines paper so incredibly sad.

Associated Press:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Russ Feingold, D-Wis., introduced legislation Tuesday requiring the Veterans Administration to track veteran suicides.

Testifying to Congress About Suicide Epidemic Among Vets

On Dec. 12, at 10 in the morning, I was sitting in room 345 of the Cannon House Office Building, as Rep. Bob Filner called to order the Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on "Stopping Suicides: Mental Health Challenges Within the Department of Veterans Affairs."

The hearings were in response to increasingly ominous rumors of soldier and veteran suicides (which the DoD and the VA have continued to deny), culminating in the dramatic CBS News report about veteran suicides released in late November. Finally, an entity with some insider clout had produced some hard numbers that attest to an epidemic of monstrous proportions. Even so, the bad guys, like Dr. Ira Katz, who is head of mental health at the VA, quibble about whether or not this is "an epidemic" or a "major problem." "Why hasn't the VA done a national study seeking national data on how many veterans have committed suicide in this country?" Katz was asked by the CBS reporter. "That research is ongoing," Katz replied, looking a lot like Lucy promising not to snatch the football away again.

So, on Dec. 12, I and three other citizens found ourselves scheduled for the morning panel: Mike and Kim Bowman, whose son Tim, a veteran of the Iraq war, took his own life a year ago; Ilona Meagher, author of Moving a Nation to Care; and me -- all of us, by the way, suicide survivors. We were to be followed by a second panel consisting of Katz and fellow apologists, who were supposed to eviscerate the CBS report and skewer us with their conflicting numbers. Without, of course, appearing callous, slimy or cruel.

Congressional Hearing on Suicide and Homelessness: Mental Health Challenges Within the Department of Veterans Affairs

Ilona Meagher emailed the basics of the congressional hearing next week (December 12th) where she will be testifying. Below are the key pieces of information from her email.

Hearing basics
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Hearing held by: House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Hearing title: Stopping Suicide and Ending Homelessness: Mental Health Challenges Within the Department of Veterans Affairs
Testimony date, time: December 12, 2007, 10 am
Location: 345 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC
Hearing page (no names up yet, but my invite is said to be official, now): Official web page details
Press release on hearing with usable details: Press Release
For more on the hearings, click Read More