Showing posts with label Suicide Prevention Legislation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suicide Prevention Legislation. Show all posts

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Is “Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act” more of the same? Probably.

Do reporters read the bills the president signs?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
January 4, 2020

If your email box is like mine, it was full of the latest "plan" to prevent veterans from committing suicide, “Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act” but none of them seem to have thought about all the other "plans" or as they put it "efforts" to actually do what they claim the bill will do.

Start with this executive order going back to 2018

January 9, 2018
Trump expands mental health benefits to decrease suicide rates among new veterans
Donovan Slack

WASHINGTON — President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday to provide more benefits to service members transitioning from the military to civilian life in an effort to decrease veteran suicides.

Veterans who have recently left the military are between two and three times more likely to commit suicide than active duty service members, and nearly 20% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

The order directs the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs to submit a plan within 60 days to provide “seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources.” read it here

That one did about as much good as this suicide prevention bill for police officers in 2019.
A bill sponsored by Sen. Josh Hawley to prevent police officer suicides with expanded mental health services will head to President Donald Trump’s desk.

The bipartisan bill authorizes $7.5 million annually over the next five years for suicide prevention programs and other treatment to assist officers and their families.

Hawley, R-Missouri, introduced the legislation following a Kansas City police officer’s suicide in February. It passed the House by unanimous consent Wednesday afternoon after clearing the Senate without opposition in May.
And yet, President Trump followed the other executive order with another one in March of 2019
The president made the announcement during a signing ceremony for an executive order aimed to address veteran suicides. Roughly 20 veterans per day take their own lives, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In 2016, the suicide rate among veterans was 1.5 times higher than non-veterans, according to the VA. The order creates a new Cabinet-level task force, run by Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, but that also includes the defense, health and human services and homeland security secretaries. The task force's job is to create a "public health roadmap" to improve veterans' quality of life and end veteran suicides. It's unclear what that will look like yet.

In that video you'll hear this
Supporting veterans in distress is a critical priority for our entire administration - everybody in the administration. Last year, I signed into law the largest funding bill for the VA in its history, which included $8.6 billion for veterans in mental health services. I also signed an executive order directing the Department of Defense, Veteran Affairs, and Homeland Security to ensure our veterans have seamless access to mental health care and suicide prevention resources. These efforts focus on veterans the first year after they separate from military service when they are at the heightened-risk area.

There are more but you get the idea. You will also hear a lot more on money and other things they were claiming they would do.

I wonder if anyone bothered to actually read the bill?
President Trump signs Brindisi-authored veteran suicide prevention act
The bill requires the Comptroller General of the United States to “conduct an assessment of the responsibilities, workload, and vacancy rates of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ Prevention Coordinators.” The job of a Suicide Prevention Coordinator is to identify veterans that are high-risk and make sure they receive appropriate care.
Judging by the news reports, no one did, but you can. Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Thursday, the third day of January, two thousand and nineteen

To direct the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct an assessment of the responsibilities, workload, and vacancy rates of Department of Veterans Affairs suicide prevention coordinators, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the “Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act”.


(a) Assessment Required.—The Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct an assessment of the responsibilities, workload, training, and vacancy rates of Department of Veterans Affairs suicide prevention coordinators. Such assessment shall include a determination of—

(1) the extent to which the use and staffing of suicide prevention coordinators varies between Department facilities; and

(2) the extent to which the Secretary provides oversight of suicide prevention coordinators.

(b) Report To Congress.—Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives a report containing the findings of the assessment required by subsection (a).
In other words, more of the same we have seen in the last decade.

This one may actually make a difference.
H. R. 5516 To amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts with States or to award grants to States to promote health and wellness, prevent suicide, and improve outreach to veterans, and for other purposes.
December 19, 2019
Mr. Levin of California introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs
To amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts with States or to award grants to States to promote health and wellness, prevent suicide, and improve outreach to veterans, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the “Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach Act”.

(a) In General.—Chapter 63 of title 38, United States Code, is amended—
(1) by redesignating sections 6307 and 6308 and sections 6308 and 6309, respectively; and
(2) by inserting after section 6306 the following new section 6307:
Ҥ 6307. Contracts and grants to promote health and wellness, prevent suicide, and improve outreach to veterans

“(a) Purpose.—It is the purpose of this section to provide for assistance by the Secretary to States to carry out programs that promote health and wellness, strengthen the coordination, implementation, and evaluation of comprehensive veteran suicide prevention programs, and offer a high probability of improving outreach and assistance to veterans and the spouses, children, and parents of veterans, to ensure that such individuals are fully informed about, and assisted in applying for, any veterans and veterans-related benefits and programs (including State veterans programs) for which they may be eligible.

“(b) Contracts.— (1) The Secretary may enter into a contract with a State in order to carry out, coordinate, improve, or otherwise enhance health and wellness programs, comprehensive veteran suicide prevention programs, and outreach by the Department and the State (including outreach with respect to a State, county, or other local veterans program).

“(2) As a condition of entering into a contract with a State under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall require the State to submit to the Secretary a detailed plan for the use of any funds provided to the State pursuant to the contract and to meet the outcome measures developed by the Secretary under subsection (c)(4).

“(3) Each contract entered into with a State under this subsection to carry out an activity shall include a requirement that the State carry out the activity through—
“(A) the county veterans service officers of the State; or
“(B) if a county veterans service officer does not exist in the State or exists only in portions of the State, an appropriate State, local, or tribal entity as determined by the Secretary.
“(c) Grants.— (1) The Secretary may award a grant to a State to be used—
“(A) to carry out, coordinate, improve, or otherwise enhance—
“(i) health and wellness programs;
“(ii) comprehensive veteran suicide prevention programs;
“(iii) outreach activities; or
“(iv) activities to assist in the development and submittal of claims for veterans and veterans-related benefits; or
“(B) to increase the number of county veterans service officers serving in the State by hiring new, additional county veterans service officers.
“(2) A State that receives a grant under this subsection to carry out an activity described in paragraph (1)(A) shall carry out the activity through—
“(A) a county veterans service officer of the State; or
“(B) if a county veterans service officer does not exist in the State or exists only in portions of the State, an appropriate State, local, or tribal entity as determined by the Secretary.
“(3) (A) To be eligible for a grant under this subsection, a State shall submit to the Secretary an application therefor at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Secretary may require.
“(B) Each application submitted under subparagraph (A) shall include the following:
“(i) A detailed plan for the use of the grant.
“(ii) A description of the programs through which the State will meet the outcome measures developed by the Secretary under paragraph (4).
“(4) (A) The Secretary shall develop and provide to the recipient of a grant under this subsection written guidance on outcome measures, policies of the Department, and procedures for applying for grants under this section.
“(B) The Secretary shall review the performance of each State that receives a grant under this section and shall make information regarding such performance publicly available.
“(C) In the case of a State that is a recipient of a grant under this subsection that does not meet the outcome measures developed by the Secretary, the Secretary shall require the State to submit a remediation plan under which the State shall describe how and when it plans to meet such outcome measures. The Secretary must approve such plan before the Secretary may award a subsequent grant to that State under this subsection.
“(5) A grant under this subsection—
“(A) shall be used—
“(i) to expand existing programs, activities, and services;
“(ii) to hire new, additional county veterans service officers; or
“(iii) for travel and transportation to facilitate carrying out clause (i) or (ii); and
“(B) shall be used to supplement and not supplant State and local funding that is otherwise available.
“(6) A grant under this subsection may be used to provide education and training, including on-the-job training, for State, county, local, and tribal government employees who provide (or when trained will provide) veterans outreach services in order for those employees to obtain accreditation in accordance with procedures approved by the Secretary and, for employees so accredited, for purposes of continuing education.
“(7) A grant awarded under paragraph (1)(A) may be used to carry out, coordinate, improve, or otherwise enhance an activity carried out pursuant to a contract entered into under subsection (b).
“(d) County Veterans Service Officer Defined.—In this section, the term ‘county veterans service officer’ includes—
“(1) a local equivalent veterans service officer; and
“(2) a tribal veterans service officer or tribal veteran representative.
“(e) Funding.— (1) Amounts for the activities of the Department under this section shall be budgeted and appropriated through a separate appropriation account.
“(2) In the budget justification materials submitted to Congress in support of the Department budget for any fiscal year (as submitted with the budget of the President under section 1105(a) of title 31), the Secretary shall include a separate statement of the amount requested to be appropriated for that fiscal year for the account specified in paragraph (1).
“(f) Authorization Of Appropriations.—There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2024, $50,000,000 to carry out this section.”.
(b) Clerical Amendment.—The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 63 of such title is amended by striking the items relating to sections 6307 and 6308 and inserting the following new items:
“6307. Contracts and grants to promote health and wellness, prevent suicide, and improve outreach to veterans.
“6308. Outreach for eligible dependents.
“6309. Biennial report to Congress.”
President Trump is no different than other presidents on this one since we have heard over and over again what they said mattered, but the end result, showed they really didn't bother to change anything other than the name that was going on a repeat bill.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

"Why didn't they know what would make all this suffering grow?"

Lives on the line, Congress writes more bills but veterans keep paying the price

Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 14, 2019

"Tester introduces veterans' mental health bill named after Helena man" was the headline for yet one more bill named after another veteran/service member who were also failed by previous ones. 
The bill carries Hannon's name because of his service as a Navy SEAL and as an advocate for the National Alliance of Mental Illness in Helena, where he retired after 23 years of military service. Hannon was dealing with post-traumatic stress, a traumatic brain injury, depression and bipolar disorder after he ended his military service. He was active in veterans' issues and helped develop a group therapy for veterans involving rehabilitating birds of prey at Montana Wild. Hannon died by suicide in 2018.
Maybe I have been watching all of this for far too long? I have become so jaded by them that the evaporation of hope forces me to ask, "Why didn't they know what would make all this suffering grow?"

Who was Commander John Scott Hannon?

Scott was open about his invisible wounds of war, and found solace and recovery in many of the causes that also allowed him to give back to his fellow veterans and his community. He was passionate about improving veterans’ access to mental health care and integrating service animals into mental health care. Scott worked closely with Montana Wild and VA Montana to develop a group therapy program for veterans that involved birds of prey. Scott was embraced on his journey to recovery by his family, friends, and community. He died from his invisible wounds of war February 25, 2018.

Ranking Member Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., speaks during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C. in September 2018.

A handout from Tester's office said expanding rural veterans' access to telehealth care and investment in "gender-specific specialists, services, and research" were part of the bill's overarching goals. If passed, the bill would also fund a study to see if there is a higher risk of suicide for veterans living at high altitude. Funding would also provide alternative treatment paths for veterans, including agricultural and animal therapy, yoga, acupuncture and meditation.
While we knew decades ago what works, it seems as if no one bothered to learn any history. It also seems that Senator Tester has not explained why the outcome is still devastating families across the country, especially when in 2009, the Montana National Guard program was touted as the best thing going and pushed across the same nation to address the same problem...veterans and military members killing themselves.
The Montana Guard's Yellow Ribbon program has become a model that the rest of America should adopt, said U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. 
"We're getting terrific responses to the program from the families of our soldiers, but also some great suggestions," said Col. Jeff Ireland, chief of manpower and personnel for the Montana Guard. "For instance, we were told it would be useful to have a special breakout session for spouses.
Ireland said officials believe the session was a great idea. 
"We plan to act on it and other suggestions until we meet all the needs we're aware of," he added. 
With the approval and funding of the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., the Montana National Guard is adding five positions and spending approximately $500,000 to fund the Yellow Ribbon program, Ireland said. 
The core of the program is twofold: mental health assessments every six months after deployment and crisis response teams that can be activated immediately to check out concerns about the emotional wellbeing of a soldier. 
"The genius of the Montana screening model is that it happens every six months," Matt Kuntz, Dana's stepbrother, told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last week during testimony in Washington.
Current suicides within the military have also increased...but hey, why bother about reviewing the failures of the past?

So why do we know that suicides in the Veterans' Community have gone up, but even as more members of Congress use the names on more bills, they remain disconnected to what the result of their other efforts produced?

Apparently they have not been notified that current military suicides have also risen.

Rep. Don Young wrote to Lt. Gen. Nadja West requesting an inquiry into suicides at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, The Daily News Miner reported Tuesday. "As the number of military suicides continues to climb in Alaska, it is clear that the battle is far from over."
Advocates, like me, continue to fight to educate them and families, but it is a constant battle because members of Congress have failed to listen to us.

As we watch suicides in every branch and in every state, claim more lives, they have eviscerated all hope we placed upon their shoulders. 

As more and more members of Congress are taking about what they are doing, we are watching to see what they keep repeating and, honestly, we are fed up!
WASHINGTON — A Department of Veterans Affairs analysis of its suicide prevention programs touted mostly “positive outcomes” of the efforts even though they didn’t translate into fewer veterans dying by their own hand. Now, as the White House launches a new year-long effort to find solutions to the problem, outside advocates want to make sure that bureaucrats aren’t going to repeat the same mistakes in how they look for those answers.“We’ve already seen four years of wasted time. It’s not a partisan mistake or problem. We’ve see this across administrations. But we seem to be doing the same things over and over again.”  Joe Chenelly, executive director at AMVETS.

But perhaps the most damning part of all of this came with this statement.
“More than 24,000 veterans have died by suicide since the passage of the Clay Hunt Act,” said group National Commander Rege Riley in a statement. “God willing, we won’t be stuck with the same system we have not in 2023, with a new report that highlights only that what (they) keep doing continues not to work.” 
People like me have advising them to do everything that veterans like Clay Hunt did in order to heal, like Scott Hannon, but lost his battle too.
The Senate voted 99-0 to pass the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act on Feb. 3, while the House voted 403-0 in favor of it last month. Obama signed the bill on Thursday...The bill is named after a Marine Corps veteran who killed himself in 2011 after he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder following deployments to Iraq and in Afghanistan. After his service, Hunt volunteered in Haiti to offer relief following the 2010 earthquake, and worked with other veterans who were dealing with the physical and mental tolls of war. He worked to address his own difficulties coping, but lacked adequate resources – he reportedly waited months to see a psychiatrist, and an appeal of his disability rating did not come through until five weeks after his death."By the time the severity of his condition was recognized, it was too late," Obama said. 
One of the first bills was the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act 

Specifically, this Act requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop a program that includes screening for suicide risk factors for veterans receiving medical care at all Department facilities, referral services for at-risk veterans for counseling and treatment, designation of a suicide prevention counselor at each Department facility, a 24-hour veterans' mental health care availability, peer support counseling, and mental health counseling program for veterans who have experienced sexual trauma while in military service.
They made all kinds of speeches back then too...but it was signed by President Bush in 2007~

How long will it take before anyone cares that while lives are on the line, more and more members of Congress get applauded for naming bills after the dead they already failed...but veterans keep paying the price with their lives on the line? 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Arkansas Suicide Prevention Hotline Passes House

Bill Instating Arkansas Suicide Prevention Hotline Passes House
Arkansas Matters
By: Jessi Turnure
Posted: Mar 21, 2017
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Right now... if you call the National Suicide Prevention hotline, you have no chance of speaking with someone in Arkansas.

We're one of two states without an in-state call center. A bill to change that passed in the House Tuesday afternoon.

The legislation calls on the Health Department to run a 24-hour call center that answers Arkansans' calls to the national hotline.

The Veteran's Coalition and Veteran's Mental Health Council brought the bill to Representative Bob Johnson, (D)-Jacksonville.

He says he's worked out the funding issues opponents have had concerns about.

The call center would cost nearly 700,000 dollars a year to run and evaluate.

Rep. Johnson says the Health Department has money to start program, and once it's up and running, it'll qualify for federal dollars.
read more here

Friday, December 24, 2010

McCain calls suicide prevention overreach and blocks bill

McCain calls suicide prevention an "overreach" and blocks bill! If all the parents out there visiting the cemetery this year for Christmas instead of sitting down with their veteran son/daughter watched this video about McCain, they would line up in front of his house and demand he resign from the Senate.
McCain told Representative Rush Holt "Don't give me a lecture" as Holt tried to explain this crisis.

John McCain blocks troop suicide prevention program

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

From MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell blog:

Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, who admitted in his memoir to attempting suicide while held captive as a P.O.W. in Vietnam for 5 1/2 years, is responsible for blocking funding for a suicide prevention program aimed at military reserve troops returning home from combat.

McCain blocks suicide prevention bill

Military suicide prevention efforts fail: report

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON | Thu Sep 23, 2010

(Reuters) - Efforts to prevent suicides among U.S. war veterans are failing, in part because distressed troops do not trust the military to help them, top military officials said on Thursday.

Poor training, a lack of coordination and an overstretched military are also factors, but a new 76-point plan lays out ways to improve this, Colonel John Bradley, chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, told a conference.

Bradley said a team of experts spent a year interviewing troops who had attempted suicide, family members and others for the report and plan, presented last month to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is due to report to Congress in 90 days.

"They tell us again and again that we are failing," Bradley told a symposium on military medicine sponsored by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation.

Each branch of the services -- the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines -- rushed to create a suicide prevention program, but there was no coordination. The report recommends that the defense secretary's office take over coordination of suicide prevention efforts.

On-the-ground prevention training often failed because those running the sessions did not understand their importance, Bradley said.

"They are mocked and they are probably harmful," he said.

According to the report, available at, 1,100 servicemen and women committed suicide in 2005 to 2009 -- one suicide every day and a half. The Army's suicide rate doubled in that time.

About 1.9 million U.S. service men and women have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

read more here
Military suicide prevention efforts fail: report

The Marines have reported the numbers have gone down, but they have reported drops in the past only to be followed up by another increase. While it is hopeful, it is not impressive. As you can see, we just keep losing them after they have survived combat operations but could not survive with the aftermath of combat.

Yet with these numbers, the National Guards and Reservists have a harder time surviving because when they return home, they are expected to and expect themselves to, just get back to their "normal" lives with no support system and a disconnected civilian circle surrounding them. He told Holt that "Maybe you need something like this in New Jersey, but we don't need it in Arizona." Too bad he must not read the newspaper from Tucson when they also carried the following report on this link. Civilian soldiers' suicide rate alarming

Civilian soldiers' suicide rate alarming
By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
National Guard soldiers who are not on active duty killed themselves this year at nearly twice the rate of 2009, marring a year when suicides among Army soldiers on active duty appear to be leveling off, new Army statistics show.

Eighty-six non-active-duty Guard soldiers have killed themselves in the first 10 months of 2010, compared with 48 such suicides in all of 2009.

The reason for the rise in suicides among these "citizen soldiers" is not known. It may be linked to the recession, says Army Col. Chris Philbrick, deputy commander of an Army task force working to reduce suicides.

Philbrick said investigations into the suicides of soldiers not on full-time-active status have found that some were facing stressful situations such as home foreclosures, debt and the loss of a job.

Other factors have played a role in the suicides, including relationship problems, depression, substance abuse, combat stress and mild brain injuries, Philbrick says.

The rise comes as the rate of suicides leveled among full-time active-duty Army soldiers, National Guard members and reservists following years of increases, Philbrick says. Among that group, there were 132 confirmed or suspected suicides in the first 10 months of this year compared with 140 such suicides for the same period in 2009.

That positive trend among active-duty troops was more than offset by the rise in suicides among non-active-duty National Guard members.

There were 252 confirmed or suspected suicides among active and non-active Army members through October of this year. There were 242 such deaths in all of 2009.

read more of this here
Civilian soldiers' suicide rate alarming
McCain must not know anything about this either.
National Guard sergeant from Phoenix found dead outside armory

by Alicia E. BarrĂ³n
Posted on August 7, 2010 at 5:59 PM
Updated Saturday, Aug 7 at 6:02 PM

PHOENIX - A homicide investigation is underway involving the United States Military in Phoenix.

The body of a National Guard soldier was discovered Saturday morning in a parking lot next to the city's armory.

The victim has been identified as 45-year old Karl Markovic. Phoenix police say another National Guard member discovered him in the parking lot a few hours after he was supposed to report for drill.

read more

National Guard sergeant from Phoenix found dead outside armory
But in all of this, to tell Holt that it is not needed in Arizona, McCain forgets that he has run his entire political life as being a veteran and a POW. He forgets that the laws and bills passed in Washington are not about one state over another but for all states which he has been a senator long enough that he should know that. These men and women are coming home from doing what he voted for them to do but he can't manage to do anything for them when they come home? How dare he be so callous? How dare he use his title of being a veteran and then turn his back on every veteran in this country? How dare the people of Arizona put him back into office over and over again when he has voted against veterans over and over again?
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Five veteran suicide rescues in a two-hour period—so John McCain blocks suicide prevention
December 22, 2010 posted by Chaplain Kathie

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) Blocks suicide prevention measure
A small crisis group gets calls all the time from veterans in crisis. Considering these men and women know what it is like to face death on a daily basis, reaching the point where all seems hopeless indicates a crisis itself, we fail to grasp how serious this is. Yet on one night this same small crisis group had to rescue 5 suicidal veterans!
read more here