A bipartisan group of six senators called on Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to do more to stem the "unacceptable" level of suicides among veterans currently estimated to be 18 per day. The call came in a letter sent to the administration on Friday.
"Too many of our brave men and women in uniform return home from war only to struggle with the trauma of their experience and, tragically, take their own lives," Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) said Tuesday. "It is imperative that the Department of Veterans Affairs do everything possible to lower the rate of suicides for veterans under its care. Our veterans fought for us and it is our duty to fight for them during their times of personal trial. My colleagues and I are committed to working with Secretary Shinseki to support needed reforms of the Department of Veterans Affairs to better serve our heroes."
"I am very concerned with the high suicide rates among our nation's veterans," Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said. "It is our duty as Americans to honor the men and women who have fought to protect our country and that means making sure they have the care they need when they return to civilian life. I will continue to do all that I can to support our returning troops."
"Sadly, too many of our troops who have risked their lives to protect our freedoms are now taking their own lives," Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said. "While we can never truly repay the debt we owe our heroes, we have an obligation to strengthen and improve the Department of Veterans Affairs programs for when they return. We must act to stop this crisis of veteran suicides and ensure that our brave veterans have the care and help they need."
"The past decade has placed heavy burdens on our military and their families, and the stresses of military service, both physical and mental, can be a challenge to overcome. It's time for the Department of Veterans Affairs to place a priority on reducing the disturbing rise in the veteran suicide rate. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to provide greater support for those who have sacrificed so much in service to our country," Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said.
"After sending service members to war, we have the responsibility to care for our veterans," Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.), said. "With an alarming veteran suicide rate of eighteen per day, and around one thousand attempts per month, the Department of Veterans Affairs needs to take account of the suicide prevention programs that currently exist and find ways improve them so that all of our returning veterans receive the care, training and support they need and deserve. We stand ready to give them the necessary assistance to do so."
"The disturbingly high rate of suicide among veterans who have returned home from combat presents a stark reminder that the scars from the frontlines are not just physical," Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said. "The men and women who have served our country deserve the highest quality of care, and it is evident more must be done to address this grave problem and prevent such tragic deaths."