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Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BOSWELL. I rise to offer an amendment with my good friend from Washington (Mr. McDermott) to provide greater funding for suicide prevention outreach for our troops on Active Duty. This amendment would add $10 million for suicide prevention outreach in the Defense Health Program of the Operations and Maintenance Account in title IX of the bill. It would pay for this by transferring $22 million from the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund. This amendment is fully paid for, fiscally responsible, and incredibly timely.

This is the most recent issue of Time magazine, reporting that military and veteran suicide is a tragic epidemic that has only gotten worse. We are currently losing one U.S. soldier every day to suicide. I know my colleague, Dr. McDermott, comes to this issue as an expert in the field. I come as a Vietnam veteran and someone very passionate about providing our heroes with the care and the support they deserve.

In 2007, I wrote the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act to honor the memory of a young veteran from Iowa who, tragically, took his life in front of his mother. To make sure veterans have 24/7 access to a crisis hotline and other mental health resources, we passed that bill. Since then, the Veterans Crisis hotline has answered more than 600,000 calls and reportedly made more than 21,000 lifesaving rescues. Tragically, we still lose a veteran to suicide every 80 minutes. So we have much more to do.

I want to thank the chairman and the ranking member for their work on this issue. You worked tirelessly to combat suicide rates amongst our servicemembers and our veterans. I hope you will join me in supporting this amendment. We are losing too many of our heroes. It's up to us to act.

With that, I yield to the gentleman from Washington, Dr. McDermott.


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