Today, Senator Joe Donnelly introduced his first bill as U.S. Senator, the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act of 2013, which would establish a pilot program in each of the military services and reserve components to integrate annual mental health assessments into a servicemember's Periodic Health Assessment (PHA) and identify risk factors for mental illness so that servicemembers can access preventative care.
"In 2012, approximately 349 members of the United States Military, including active duty, Guard, and Reserve, committed suicide, more than the total number of servicemembers who died in combat operations," said Donnelly. "This number does not even include the more than 6,000 veterans who committed suicide in 2012. This is unacceptable. This has to end.
"Today, I am introducing my first bill as a United States Senator, the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act of 2013. We're doing this to address this pervasive issue. This bill seeks to better identify servicemembers struggling with mental health issues and to ensure they receive the assistance they need before resorting to this tragic act.
"I named this bill after a member of the Indiana National Guard, Jacob Sexton, a native of Farmland, Indiana, who tragically took his own life in 2009 while home on a 15-day leave from Afghanistan My hope is that we can help men and women like Jacob who are struggling with mental health issues, to get them the help they need before they resort to taking their own life."