U.S. Senator Tom Harkin is co-sponsoring legislation with his Iowa counterpart Chuck Grassley to try and help prevent suicide among the nation’s veterans. Harkin says the bill is called the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act of 2006.
Harkin says, “It’s named after a young Iowan who tragically took his own life after returning from 11 months in Iraq.” Harkin says the bill was originally introduced in the House by Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell and would direct the Veterans Affairs Department to create a comprehensive program to address suicide among veterans. Harkin says estimates have found nearly one thousand veterans receiving V-A care take their own lives each year.
Harkin says, “We have a profound responsibility to treat both the physical and psychological injuries suffered by members of our armed forces.” Harkin says the measure for the creation of a Veterans Administration national mental health campaign to increase awareness of mental illness and reduce the stigma of seeking mental health care. And it ensures 24-hour access to mental health care for veterans who are deemed at risk for suicide, including those in rural or remote locations.