Hon. Leonard L. Boswell
Chairman Michaud, Ranking Member Miller and Members of the Committee, I would like to thank you for inviting me to speak before you today and for holding this hearing over many important pieces of veteran’s health legislation.
Some say suicide is an epidemic which is sweeping through our veteran population. For too long suicide among veterans has been ignored; now is the time to act. We can no longer be afraid to look at the facts and a sad fact is we are missing adequate information on the number of veterans who commit suicide each year.
I was shocked, as I am sure many of you were, when I saw a CBS Evening News report focusing on veteran’s suicide. They found that in 2005 over 6,200 veterans committed suicide—120 per week! The report also found that veterans were twice as likely to commit suicide as non-veterans. These statistics are devastating.
However, the data collected did not come from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but rather from individual states. That is why I introduced H.R. 4204, the Veterans Suicide Study Act to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study on the rate of suicide among our nation’s veterans. It is imperative we have the facts on this terrible problem if we are to effectively treat our veterans as they return home.
While I’m pleased that the Joshua Omvig Veteran Suicide Prevention Act is now law, we need to continue to get all the facts on suicide among our veterans in order to better treat them as they return home. I implore this Committee and Congress to act swiftly on H.R. 4204 so we can ensure we have the data we need to treat our nation’s heroes. This is an issue important to veterans and their families in Iowa and across our great nation.
I would again like to thank members of this Committee for allowing me the time to speak and your diligence on this matter. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.