Sunday, March 12, 2017

California Does Not Track Veteran Suicides?

How many veterans are we talking about? Consider that California has the largest percentage of veterans, then reconsider the fact that none of these veterans were part of the suicide reports.
California has the largest number of veterans of any state in the nation with nearly 2.1 million vets calling the Golden State home. That’s about 9% of the nation’s entire veteran population. The state also has the highest number of homeless veterans in the country with a staggering estimated 50,000 living on the streets. It follows that veterans make up 26% of the state’s homeless population. Furthermore, the state estimates that 62% of homeless veterans have been diagnosed with both substance abuse issues and mental health problems. Additional benefits and services include tuition waivers for college, job placement services, vocational training, assistance with applying for aid from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, burial in a state veterans cemetery and special outreach programs for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
ABC 30 News
By Cory James
Friday, March 10, 2017
Currently data on veteran suicide is collected by county coroners, but that information is not being used by the state to help come up with ways to improve suicide prevention outreach and other programs.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Military Police Veteran Norbie Lara knows the danger that comes with protecting our country and serving overseas. In 2004, while in Iraq, he was injured when the vehicle he was in was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.

"Which took my arm, my lieutenant's left arm-- she was sitting right behind me."

But Lara says the risk of returning home is often just as bad as being out on the battlefield, because for some it is a homecoming that ends in suicide.

"I lost a buddy, Tim, to suicide and I attempted to take my life a couple times."

Because of that, Lara is a supporter of this new bill-- AB 242. The bill will require the State Department of Public Health to collect data on veteran suicides and report it to the legislature and the Department of Veteran Affairs each year.
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