In the News
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies and member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, is sponsoring legislation led by U.S. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to combat veteran suicide.
The Veterans Overmedication Prevention Act (S. 992) would direct the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct an independent study on the deaths of all veterans being treated at the VA who died by suicide, from an accidental drug overdose and other means related to their passing in the last five years.
“The number of veterans who take their own lives each year remains alarmingly high despite the efforts of many at the VA, community providers and nonprofit groups working to care for those who have served our nation,” Moran said. “We must do everything we can to put a stop to this disturbing trend. This legislation is one step among many we should take as we work to provide veterans with the care they need to end veteran suicide.”
A 2016 report by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that an average of 20 veterans a day die from suicide, accounting for nearly a quarter of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults. More substantive research is critical to properly address this epidemic among veterans, Moran stated in a news release.
Since 2001, the rate of veteran suicide has increased by 32 percent. After controlling for age and gender, this makes the risk of suicide 21 percent higher for veterans than the average U.S. adult.
A primary reason for the review by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is to determine the relationship between veteran suicides and prescription medication. Additionally, this legislation would direct the VA to perform a more comprehensive review of its behavioral health workforce with a focus on mental health counselors in an effort to address workforce shortages.
The legislation is also supported by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, AMVETS and the National Board for Certified Counselors.
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