Today, an amendment sponsored by U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, that would require the Pentagon to implement a standardized and comprehensive suicide prevention program was signed into law by the President as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (S.3254). Murray crafted the amendment after a major study by the RAND Corporation showed that there are serious gaps and a lack of consistency in military services' suicide prevention programs. The new law comes as the number of active duty suicides continues to rise with 2012 exceeding 2011.
"This law is another step forward in our efforts to ensure that servicemembers aren't slipping through the cracks," said Senator Murray. "It will help to not only standardize suicide prevention efforts, but also contains provisions to reduce wait times, ensure proper diagnoses, and achieve true coordination of care and information between the Pentagon and the VA. We cannot afford to be passive about the military suicide epidemic we face. We must continue to respond with every legislative and outreach effort possible in order to turn this tragic trend around."
Senator Murray's amendment the Department of Defense to create a comprehensive, standardized suicide prevention program; expand eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs mental health services to family members; strengthen oversight of DoD Mental Health Care and the Integrated Disability Evaluation System; improve training and education for our health care providers; create more peer-to-peer counseling opportunities; and require VA to establish accurate and reliable measures for mental health services.