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Opening Statement of Hon. Ginny Brown-Waite, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

It is no secret that the Department of Veterans Affairs is seeing an increase in cases of Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among OEFIOIF veterans. While these conditions may not be as visible as an amputated leg or gun shot wound, they can be just as debilitating. Left untreated, these conditions may lead to the veteran committing suicide.

To address these growing concerns, this Committee approved and the President signed into law the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act. The act requires the V A to establish a comprehensive program for suicide prevention among veterans. Signed into law in November 2007, this act will dramatically affect the way the V A handles veterans with suicidal tendencies.

Unfortunately, a majority of veterans with conditions that lead to suicide do not seek help for these conditions. That is why the outreach section of the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act is so important. The V A must reach out to veterans, their families and the organizations that help veterans to ensure this nation's veterans receive the care they deserve.

I look forward to hearing from all of the witnesses here today about what is being done and what still needs to be done to minimize the number of veteran suicides. Specifically, I look forward to hearing from Secretary Peake as to the implementation of the programs contained in the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act and the impact they have made thus far.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.