On Tuesday, June 4, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2216, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2014. The legislation includes $20 million in additional funding for veteran suicide prevention sought by U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ-12) and U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ-03).
Holt and Runyan previously worked together to secure $20 million in veteran suicide prevention funding in the 2012 and 2013 fiscal year Veterans Affairs budgets. Earlier this year, Holt and Runyan led a letter to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations urging that the funding be continued in fiscal year 2014. Their letter, which was cosigned by 99 members of Congress, is attached.
"Over the past few years, Congress has finally started to take seriously the crisis of military suicide," Holt said. "This continued funding sends a clear message to our soldiers and veterans: Your country is committed to helping you with the strains of your service, and we will do everything possible to keep you safe."
"According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 22 of our military veterans commit suicide every day -- one every 65 minutes, to be precise," said Runyan. "This is unacceptable. The men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our country deserve our complete support while on the battlefield and when they return home. It is my sincere hope that the funds provided in this bill will help our servicemembers adjust to a healthy post-deployment life for themselves and their families."