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Public Statements

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

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Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased at this time to yield such time as he may consume to my colleague from New Jersey (Mr. Runyan).

Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you for the time.

I thank my colleague from New Jersey (Mr. Holt) for his work on this amendment.

Mr. Chair, I rise today in support of the Holt-Runyan amendment, which takes further steps towards keeping veterans alive by dedicating $20 million of suicide prevention outreach within the VA for fiscal year 2012.

Suicide is always tragic, but suicide by a veteran, especially young veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, is especially troubling. VA officials tell us that one in five suicides in America is a veteran, and that the suicide rate of male veterans is twice that of the general population. While most of these are older veterans, young male veterans are still more likely to commit suicide than those who have never served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

When the suicide rate of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan spiked in 2004, Congress responded by increasing VA's budget for mental health by nearly a third. This allowed VA to create a veterans crisis line and place suicide prevention coordinators in every medical center.

But if any veteran who needs help cannot get help or does not know it is available, the program is a failure. As I said before, every suicide is tragic. And more must be done.

This is why I strongly support this amendment which would give the VA the necessary additional resources to let veterans know, through TV and social media, to reach out to our veterans. I hope all of my colleagues will stand with me and my colleague, Mr. Holt, in support of this amendment.

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