facebook linkedin twitter

New Legislation Will Make It Easier For Veterans In Crisis To Get Help

July 2, 2019 by Sean Trambley

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 20 veterans and military members die by suicide every day across the United States, and suicide rates are nearly two times higher for veterans than for non-veteran adults. 

These tragic statistics have spurred a bipartisan coalition in the Senate to take action and introduce new legislation that will provide immediate help to veterans in crisis.

This week, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., Jon Tester, D-Mont., John Boozman, R-Ark., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., introduced the Suicide Prevention by Eliminating Excessive Digits Act of 2019 (SPEED Act), requiring the Federal Communication Commission to designate a 3-digit dialing code for Veterans in crisis. 

This three digit number will designate a three digit dialing code, like 911, for the current Veterans Crisis Line number to create an easier, more accessible way for Veterans to receive help. 

Currently, veterans seeking help must dial 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, a long number and menu system that is not easily remembered. In effect, this bill could simultaneously help create a three-digit dialing code for all Americans in crisis, not only Veterans, since the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is the same toll-free number.

As a 24/7 operation, the Veterans Crisis Line, which was created in 2007, has answered over 3.5 million calls.

“In the past 20 years, suicide deaths have increased by 37 percent in West Virginia, which is unacceptable,” Senator Manchin said. “Suicide is preventable. That’s why I’m introducing the SPEED Act, which help our Veterans receive the help and support they need quickly.

“With a three-digit dialing code, we can lower that terrible statistic in West Virginia and across the nation and help our Veterans in need,” Manchin said. “As a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, I will continue to fight for our Veterans whenever possible.” 

“When it comes to expanding veterans’ access to mental health care and improving our suicide prevention efforts, we need to do better,” said Senator Tester, ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “By creating a more direct and effective line of communication for veterans in crisis, help can be on the way faster. This is a necessary step that breaks down needless barriers, ultimately saving veteran lives.”

For Senator Boozman, the tragedy is compounded by the fact despite the significant resources the federal government has allocated toward suicide prevention efforts, the number of veterans who take their own lives everyday remains unchanged. 

“More work must be done to find ways to reach veterans in need,” Boozman said. “Establishing a three-digit number that is easy for veterans to remember, and quick to access in a crisis, is one simple way we can save more lives. We simply have to do everything in our power to move the needle in the right direction.”

“Just like we all use 9-1-1, this bill designates a covered dialing code that exclusively veterans may use to reach a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system,” said Senator Cramer. These men and women offered to give us their all for our freedom. Transitioning back to civilian life can be difficult, stressful, and sometimes traumatic; and we need to do everything we can to offer them support and assist their transition into civilian life.”

Among those supporting the Senators’ effort is Carlos Fuentes, national legislative service director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“We must do everything possible to save the 20 veterans who die by suicide every day,” Fuentes said. “The VFW is proud to support the Suicide Prevention by Eliminating Excessive Digits Act of 2019, which would make it easier for veterans facing a mental health crisis to receive the care and service they have earned and deserve.” 

This bill is also supported by The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

 If you are a Veteran in crisis – or you are concerned about one – free, confidential support is available 24/7. Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, or send a text message to 838255.

Veterans

May 25, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
Texas Approves Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Study for Veterans with PTSD

AUSTIN, Texas-- In Texas this week, a bipartisan bill to develop a study on the use of psychedelic therapy to... Read More

AUSTIN, Texas-- In Texas this week, a bipartisan bill to develop a study on the use of psychedelic therapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate.  “We are losing over 20 veterans a day to suicide in the United States.... Read More

December 10, 2020
by Dan McCue
IAVA Celebrates Senate Passage of Landmark Women Veterans Legislation

WASHINGTON - The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America on Thursday cheered Senate passage of the Deborah Sampson Act, which... Read More

WASHINGTON - The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America on Thursday cheered Senate passage of the Deborah Sampson Act, which directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to carry out the three-year pilot program to assess how best to provide assistance to women veterans. The pilot program,... Read More

October 16, 2020
by Dan McCue
National Native American Veterans Memorial to Open Near Capitol Hill Nov. 11

WASHINGTON - Right now, it's just a hub of activity behind a construction area awning at the foot of Capitol... Read More

WASHINGTON - Right now, it's just a hub of activity behind a construction area awning at the foot of Capitol Hill, but come Nov. 11 the site, on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian, will be transformed into the National Native American... Read More

October 16, 2020
by Reece Nations
Fitzpatrick, Kilmer, Connolly Co-Sponsor Resolution Defending Veterans’ Health Benefits

LANGHORNE, Pa. — Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, D-Pa., Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va., brought forth a bill that would... Read More

LANGHORNE, Pa. — Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, D-Pa., Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va., brought forth a bill that would ensure disabled veterans can fully utilize their benefits following disruptions in veterans’ health care due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Back in March 2020, the novel coronavirus... Read More

From Defeat to a First-Ever Bill: How Veterans Are Fighting Back on Toxic Exposure

WASHINGTON — When Rosie Torres first knocked on Congress’ doors almost a decade ago, asking for help for her husband... Read More

WASHINGTON — When Rosie Torres first knocked on Congress’ doors almost a decade ago, asking for help for her husband and other veterans who became sick following exposure to military burn pits, she gained little traction. What she heard: More research was needed to determine if... Read More

June 4, 2020
by Gaspard Le Dem
Tester, IAVA Detail Economic and Emotional Toll Coronavirus Taking On U.S. Veterans

As the U.S. struggles to fight off a lingering coronavirus pandemic, the full impact of the crisis on the lives... Read More

As the U.S. struggles to fight off a lingering coronavirus pandemic, the full impact of the crisis on the lives of Americans is just starting to come into view. But for the veteran community -- as for many other groups -- the crisis has already taken... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top