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Opening Statement of Hon. Jeff Miller, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

There is no doubt that suicide under any condition is a tragedy.  Suicide that could have been prevented is even more so, and we here on this committee have a duty to provide the best services for a targeted group: our nation’s veterans.  These brave men and women spend countless hours, days, and years defending liberty for us here at home, and it is imperative that we provide them the best services upon their return from combat. 

As we learn more each day about mental health, it is imperative that we apply these findings toward helping those who suffer, especially when it comes to preventing suicide.  To be sure, veterans have a unique set of factors that may lead to an increased suicide rate.  None of us here doubt the extreme rigors of combat and the toll it can take on a person.  However, with no single factor causing suicide, it is a difficult and ongoing process to identify those most at risk and those most likely to attempt suicide. 

While this committee cannot identify and eliminate every factor that may contribute to suicide risk, especially those arising from the civilian world, we certainly can work toward addressing those arising from service, including PTSD and substance abuse.  I look forward to hearing what steps have been implemented by VA, what progress has been made, and what steps they will take in the future.  Our soldiers gave too much to not receive the best treatment across all fronts upon their return home.  A smooth transition to civilian life and easy access to care must be ensured for them, and this can be aided with a proactive approach by the VA to see that they have everything they need before it is too late.

I yield back.