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U.S. Army's Suicide Stand Down Day

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I rise today during Suicide Prevention Month to recognize the Army's Suicide Stand Down Day, which will take place later this month on September 27, 2012.

The stand down is an opportunity for the Army to take a hard look at current efforts to address the issue of suicide among soldiers and focus on ways to improve these efforts. It will emphasize eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health injuries, which too often prevents our service men and women from getting the help they need.

This could not come at a more critical time. The incidence of suicide among our troops has skyrocketed to alarming levels due, in part, to over 10 years of repeated and protracted deployments to combat zones around the world. In fact, the Army experienced a record-high 38 Active-Duty suicides in July and is on track to surpass last year's total. This is absolutely tragic and requires urgent and sustained action.

The central theme of the stand down is ``Shoulder to Shoulder: We Stand up for Life.'' This is such a critical message--our servicemembers should never have to suffer alone. Our military men and women make tremendous sacrifices each and every day in service to our Nation, and we have a sacred obligation to take care of them in return. This means ensuring they feel comfortable seeking the care that they need without fear or repercussion or being stigmatized. This also means improving access to mental health care and providing support for our military families.

While there is no single solution to preventing military suicide, efforts like the Army's Suicide Stand Down Day are important steps because they provide an opportunity to have a frank conversation across all levels of leadership about the profound stressors our troops are experiencing.

I strongly encourage all branches of our military to continue to review and improve their suicide prevention programs because it is clear that more must be done and that it must be done now.

Suicide reaches far beyond one individual--it devastates entire families and affects communities. Our military families are resilient and they display incredible courage in the face of so many unique challenges, but no one person or family can be strong all the time.

That is why we must continue to do everything in our power to send the message to our servicemembers, veterans, and their families that it is OK to ask for help and that the care and support they need is waiting for them.

I urge our citizens, our government, and our Nation to continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Armed Forces and recommit ourselves to stemming the tide of military suicide once and for all because we can all agree that one suicide is one too many.

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