Congress Plays “Taps” for the Veteran Suicide Bill

Suicide Prevention Day would be a bad day for Congress to give up on the problem of veteran suicide. But that’s exactly what just happened!

22 veterans commit suicide every day. People will tell you that a big part of that number is older veterans, and that is because there are a lot of WWII-era veterans and suicide rates among older men are high even for non-veterans. This is true. But the highest rate of suicide is for men under 30. In fact, the suicide rate for male veterans under 25 is one of the highest suicide rates for any demographic in the country, over seven times the national average. So the people most likely to commit suicide are veterans who just left the service.

Once upon a time, Congress cared about this. Just this spring, comprehensive veteran suicide bills were introduced in both the Senate and House, and with the kind of fanfare that suggests they really meant it. The bills had bipartisan support. It was backed by veterans groups. They held hearings, the whole nine yards. Even with a Congress as dysfunctional as it is, this one was going to happen.

But then… it stopped being interesting. Congress just came back into session, and the House has made the list of bills it’s going to work on. In fact, they’re working on those bills today. What’s missing? The veteran suicide prevention bill.  The House decided that Suicide Prevention Day would be a great day to abandon veteran suicide. Nice.

The Senate veterans committee has not even said what bills they are going to work on, and because the session is so short you have to wonder whether they are going to do anything at all.

Tell your Senator and tell your Representative that this is shameful.

Bradford Adams, Skadden Fellowship Attorney at Swords to Plowshares
Bradford has previously worked with the Center for Justice and Accountability, Harvard University, and The Human Rights Education Institute for Burma. He served in the United States Army as a Civil Affairs Officer in Afghanistan in 2002 through 2003. He attended Harvard Law School for his Doctor of Law (JD) after earning his BA in International Relations and Affairs at John Hopkins University.