A bill that was named after an Iraq war veteran from Iowa has passed the U.S. House for the final time. Representative Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines, introduced the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act over a year ago. He spoke to Radio Iowa in September of 2006, after a press conference in Grundy Center with Joshua’s parents, Randy and Ellen Omvig.
Joshua took his own life earlier in the year, after returning from Iraq. "The family knew he was having trouble," Boswell said, "and they were doing their best to cope with it…but they weren’t really qualified to do it. He got caught in one of his low moments and as he was reflecting on the experiences he’d had, he went out and rolled the windows up on his pick-up truck and shot himself — and his mother right there talking to him."
The bill would force the Veterans Administration to test those who are leaving the military to determine if they have a tendency toward suicide or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. "This would require them to take action," Boswell said. Democrat Tom Harkin co-sponsored the bill in the Senate with Republican Chuck Grassley.
"We have a profound responsibility to treat both the physical and psychological injuries suffered by members of our armed forces" Harkin told reporters after introducing the measure. Harkin said officials estimate nearly one thousand veterans receiving VA care take their own lives each year. Harkin says it’s expected that President Bush will sign the measure into law soon.