Congressman Leonard Boswell (IA-3) and Congressman Jim McDermott (WA-7) urged leaders of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to work with them in getting the Pentagon to use all of its unspent suicide prevention funds to reach more service members as soon as possible, and to go even farther with higher funding next year. In July, the Boswell-McDermott amendment that would increase critical funding for suicide prevention for active duty military by $10 million passed with strong support in the House Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013.
"We lose a soldier to suicide every day, a record pace that is driving the number of military suicides to all-time highs. As I said on the House floor in July, this is a national epidemic that requires immediate Congressional action to provide the necessary resources to prevent these tragedies from happening," Boswell said. "With this year's defense appropriations legislation at a standstill, and only days remaining in the legislative calendar, we urge leaders to act on freeing up the existing funds for soldier suicide prevention and outreach."
Congressman McDermott added, "The Pentagon hasn't spent the money that it has for suicide prevention for this year -- and that money wasn't nearly enough money to reach all the soldiers who need help. Now we are hearing about bureaucratic technicalities at the Pentagon that are preventing them from acting. This is unconscionable. The Pentagon is funded to help soldiers and needs to do much more on the epidemic of suicides. As we commemorate National Suicide Prevention Week, we are calling on the Pentagon to move much faster."