Yesterday, State Senator Mike Regan (R-Cumberland/York) and U.S. Representative Scott Perry (R-PA-10, Cumberland/Dauphin/York) held a Roundtable Discussion regarding the issue of Veterans Suicide at the American Legion, PA Department Headquarters, in Wormleysburg, PA.
“The statistics are staring directly at us in the face — with twenty veterans committing suicide each day and with veterans suicide twice the rate of the general population,” said Sen. Regan, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee. “We need to get to the underlying issues and take action in order to help save lives.”
“Our Service Members and Veterans sign a blank check payable with their lives to the United States of America,” said Congressman Perry. “The fact that some find themselves wanting to take their own lives for various reasons is, simply, devastating. This discussion was incredibly insightful today, and I commend Senator Regan for his initiative. I look forward to partnering with local, state and federal stakeholders – both civilian and military – to fulfill our commitment to our brothers and sisters in arms, past and present.”
Senator Regan and Congressman Perry were joined by the Adjutant General Anthony Carrelli (PA Department of Military & Veterans Affairs), PA Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller, federal, state and county officials, and representatives of the American Legion, Bethesda Mission, Concerned Veterans of America, Just for Today Veterans Recovery Services, Mission 22, Pennsylvania National Guards Association, Pennsylvania War Veterans Council, Prevent Suicide Pennsylvania, and Veterans Service Officers.
The group discussed federal, state, and local efforts to combat Veterans Suicide and how best to coordinate efforts. Specific items mentioned were the national Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255), navigating the host of services to available to veterans, Public Service Announcements to help change the stigma associated with veterans seeking help, the STRIVE (Suicide and Trauma Reduction Initiative for Veterans) Program, changes in the qualifications for military service as it relates to medication, more comprehensive post-deployment/re-acclimation periods, as well as additional VA Vet Centers, County Veterans Courts, Veterans Services in Prisons and Veterans Services Officers, all in order to get veterans the services they need.
This was the first of several Roundtable Discussions that Senator Regan plans to hold. Additional Roundtables are expected to be held in Allegheny, Erie, Luzerne, and Montgomery Counties, with area Congress members and local groups and organizations focused on the issue of Veterans Suicide.