As I have written to you previously, before today is out, if it is like every other day, at least 18 more veterans will have taken their own lives. In each of the past two years, I have obtained $40 million for military suicide prevention and outreach. Rep. Jon Runyan, a New Jersey Republican, has been a partner in this endeavor.
On Tuesday, at a press conference at the World War II Memorial in Trenton, we urged continued action to prevent military and veteran suicide. Ninety-seven of our colleagues in the U.S. House have joined us on a letter urging continuation of the $40 million again this year.
At the press conference, we spoke about the Vets4Warriors program, which connects veterans to peer counselors. Linda Bean, the mother of Sgt. Coleman S. Bean, who took his own life after returning from service in Iraq, spoke movingly about the need for greater outreach.
Veterans who are struggling with the emotional, physical, family or career consequences of their service can call 1-855-VET-TALK (1-855-838-8255), 24 hours a day. The call is free, and all counselors are veterans.
Not Just Air Traffic Controllers
Following debate soaked in hypocrisy last week, Congress voted to excuse air traffic controllers from the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester.
The legislation was presented by the authors of the sequester. I wonder what government services they next will decide are invaluable and irreplaceable.
Curiosity, Hope, and Fidelity to Facts
This week I attended an assembly of the National Academy of Sciences where President Obama, recognizing the 150th anniversary of the Academy, said, "What is so necessary for us to continue our scientific advance and to maintain our cutting-edge is restless curiosity and boundless hope, but also a fidelity to facts and truth, and a willingness to follow where the evidence leads." I appreciate having a President who has such a good understanding of the nature of science.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Members of Congress were showing fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of science. Chairman Smith of the Science Committee proposed that no project of the National Science Foundation be approved unless the Director certifies in advance that it will enhance the U.S. economy or security in some specific, identifiable way. Presidential Science Advisor John Holdren responded that funded research should be measured by the time-tested process of peer review, not official certification.
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