America is the land of the free because of the brave. Every freedom we are privileged to enjoy in this great land has been purchased by the sacrifices of the great men and women who have served in our military. And yet those who served us so well are in need.
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Every single day twenty-two veterans commit suicide. Shockingly that is a suicide every 65 minutes.
Nationally veterans make up 10 percent of the population but are approximately 20 percent of the nation’s suicides. In 2013 President Obama announced $107 million in new funding for better mental health treatment for veterans (nearly the same amount as his 2013 $100 million week vacation to South Africa).
These brave warriors fought for us and now it is time that we begin to fight for them. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act unanimously passed the 114th Congress and was signed into law by President Obama on February 12, 2015. The SAV Act is supposed to do the following:
- Increase access to mental health care by, among other things, creating a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning service members as well as a one-stop, interactive website of available resources.
- Better meet the demand for mental health care by starting a pilot program to repay the loan debt of students in psychiatry so it is easier to recruit them to work at the VA.
- Boost the accountability of mental health care by requiring an annual evaluation of VA mental health and suicide-prevention programs.
- We can and must pray for our veterans, consider joining a prayer group that prays for our veterans and their families and if you can’t find a prayer group to join, start one.
- As we prepare to choose a candidate for the 2016 election we must demand that all candidates seeking our vote make all of our veterans a priority over any other class in our nation. Our veterans must come first.
- Make sure every veteran that you know has the confidential Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1).
- Contact the following links to volunteer to serve our military: va.gov/volunteer www.milserv.org www.dav.org/help www.voa.org/veterans these are just a few but there are thousands of groups available that need your help. Your local VFW will also have opportunities and ideas.
Let us always remember that our veterans are our superheroes. Our veterans are what made America great and we owe them a debt that we can never repay. We have the best military in the world and we have not always treated and cared for them as we should have. Please join me and let’s begin to change that today.