McSally Takes to House Floor in the Middle of the Night to Increase Funds and Raise Awareness About Veterans Suicide
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Martha McSally successfully included an amendment with significant wins for Arizona veterans to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act 2019 in the late hours of Thursday evening. The amendment will ensure that $225 million in Veterans Affairs’ medical services funds are set aside for suicide prevention in fiscal year 2019.
“Veterans make up less than 9 percent of the U.S. population--yet, veteran suicides account for 18 percent of all suicides in America. After adjusting for differences in age and sex, that puts the risk of suicide at 22 percent higher for veterans than for civilian adults,” Rep. McSally said. “It is not enough to simply talk about studies and statistics and hope for the best. Lip service will not save lives. For the over 500,000 veterans that call Arizona home, this can be a life or death issue. Today and every day, on average, 20 veterans take their own lives. Twenty of my fellow warriors--20 heroes; 20 loved ones; sons, daughters, mothers, fathers--20 vets who often survive combating the enemy in conflict only to come home and take their own lives. Mr. Speaker, this is unacceptable. When they raise their right hand and take an oath that they are willing to defend our freedoms with their lives, we have a covenant that we’ve got their back, and we are going to give them everything they need.”
The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act provides $8.6 billion for VA mental health programs. Upon being signed into law, this legislation will also require VA to provide a detailed report of its plan for spending these funds on suicide prevention outreach programs, like the Veterans Crisis Hotline, to the House Committee on Appropriations. The Act passed the House on Friday by a vote of 235-179.
Watch Rep. McSally present her amendment on the floor below: