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house Bill H.R. 2340

Should Veteran Suicides and Suicide Attempts at VA Facilities be Reported to Congress?

Argument in favor

Veterans are committing suicide at an alarming rate, and some of these suicides are occurring at VA facilities. In those cases, veterans are trying to send a message about poor care or other grievances they have with the VA — and Congress needs to heed these messages. Having the VA report to Congress on veteran suicides and suicide attempts on VA grounds will keep lawmakers informed.

burrkitty's Opinion
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05/21/2019
We owe our veterans for being willing pawns in all our unconstitutional wars. Get them everything they need, but more importantly STOP ALL THE U.S. WARMONGERING.
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IllWill's Opinion
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05/21/2019
If we want to stop veteran suicides, let’s stop sending them into our regime change wars that are only designed to be a profit-making venture for defense contractors!
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Kodiwodi's Opinion
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05/21/2019
Definitely, so trump can see what crap he put in charge of the VA and so Congress can put pressure on him to change them and the system that treats these men and women so appallingly.
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Argument opposed

The VA already gives Congress yearly suicide and suicide attempt reporting, including an additional report about each individual suicide or suicide attempt on VA grounds to Congress on a case-by-case basis is excessive. An annual report that helps Congress understand the broader context of and challenge of addressing veteran suicides is the best way for the VA and Congress to work together to address this problem.

ThatGuyInOhio's Opinion
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05/21/2019
one step to help would be to stop blocking the use of medical cannabis for our PTSD veterans! Second is why should they report to someone who doesn’t do anything in the first place? medical marijuana has shown to not just help with PTSD, but has helped to stop the feelings of suicide as well. These treatments are being blocked by kickbacks from big pharmaceutical companies to congress. and you dare act as if you now all of a sudden care for our veterans.
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Thomas's Opinion
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05/21/2019
Just more paperwork. If the congress cared, something positive would have already been accomplished. This has been a issue for many years. This bill adds nothing to the solution.
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John's Opinion
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05/21/2019
What is congress going to do? Shake their head and say it’s a shame? This is a VA and DoD problem and should be treated as such. These men and women deserve better. Mental health issues should be given the resources they deserve to curb if not correct the issue. Maybe Congress can better fund the VA but that’s about all they are capable of. These men and women need action, not another bloody report that will do nothing.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Health
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedApril 18th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 2340?

This bill — the FIGHT Veteran Suicides Act — would require Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) to notify Congress within seven days of any suicide or attempted suicide that takes place in or on a VA facility’s grounds.

It’d also require the VA to submit additional incident information to Congress about:

  • The veteran’s service record;
  • The veteran’s demographics (including their age, marital status, housing and employment status);
  • The veteran’s use of VA healthcare and their most recent encounter with any VA facility or employee before the suicide or attempted suicide; and
  • Whether the veteran had private medical insurance within 60 days of the incident.

The VA would also be required to provide confirmation that the VA Secretary has provided notice to the immediate family members of the veteran regarding any VA support or assistance they might be eligible for.

This bill’s full title is the Fostering Intergovernmental Health Transparency in Veteran Suicides Act.

Impact

Veterans; veteran suicide attempts; veteran suicides; VA; and Congressional oversight of the VA and veterans’ affairs.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2340

The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost less than $500,000 to prepare necessary regulations.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), an Army combat veteran, introduced this bill to address the troubling trend of veterans dying by suicide on Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) campuses:

“It’s imperative that we receive not only basic information from the VA, but substantive data on this rising trend of veterans committing suicide at VA facilities. Getting this data more quickly and thoroughly would guide Congress’ efforts in understanding this crisis, and preventing these tragedies. We must ensure all veterans have the services they need when they need them, plain and simple.”

At a bipartisan press conference on veteran suicide on April 29, 2019, Rep. Rose added:

“Every veteran struggling with the mental and physical scars of war who die by suicide is another casualty of combat—so we need to put the same attention and resources towards keeping our soldiers safe on the battlefield as we do supporting them when they come home. And as we were painfully reminded just this month, when three veterans died by suicide on VA campuses in the span of five days, and a fourth just today in Cleveland, Ohio—we all need to do more. The VA, Congress, all of us. So as a vet and a Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I introduced a bill that is a key first step in addressing this crisis—the FIGHT Veterans Suicide Act. This would require the VA to report critical information on attempted or completed suicides on VA campuses directly to Congress.”

American Veterans (AMVETS) supports this bill. Its National Executive Director, Joe Chenelly, says:

“AMVETS is pleased that Congressman Rose has stepped up to the plate as we search for solutions to this national crisis. Unfortunately, as we’ve stated before, we have reached an epidemic of crisis proportions. We have veterans committing suicides in VA parking lots, shooting themselves in facilities, and lighting themselves on fire in clinic doorways. While we remain unaware of just how many veterans take their lives at VA medical centers, there is one thing that is apparent: this is some form of a last resort protest regarding the VA system failing them. The more data we can gather to identify trends and determine where we are falling short, the better. We look forward to working with Congressman Rose to get this legislation passed and enforced, so that we can start getting answers.”

In other comments, Chenelly elaborated on his belief that suicides at VA facilities are a form of outcry, saying these suicides “appear to be protests of last resort where health care systems, treatment programs, and the underlying cultures of the responsible federal agencies have failed them."

Eric Caine, director of the Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention at the University of Rochester, concurs:

“These suicides are sentinel events. It’s very important for the VA to recognize that the place of a suicide can have great meaning. There is a real moral imperative and invitation here to take a close inspection of the quality of services at the facility level.”

At a House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health hearing, Dr. Keita Franklin, National Director of Suicide Prevention for the VA, expressed the VA’s support for this bill. Dr. Franklin said, “This would require the VA to submit notification of veterans suicide deaths or suicide attempts that occur on VA facilities to Congress within seven days of the event. VA supports this legislation.” However, when this bill was initially introduced, a VA spokesperson also noted that the VA already notifies certain persons of suicide attempts at VA facilities:

"The [VA] is transparent about suicides and suicide attempts...VA already notifies the staff directors of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of any veteran suicide on VA property and strives to do so within 24 hours of a confirmed incident."

The Trump administration has made efforts to address veteran suicide. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has repeatedly promised to keep suicide prevention as VA’s top priority. In March 2019, President Donald Trump signed an executive order, the National Initiative to Empower Veterans and End Veteran Suicide, instructing VA officials to develop a strategy to aggressively tackle the issue of veteran suicide. However, AMVETS contended the White House initiative would take “at least a year to establish and launch into action,” and called instead for a multi-agency investigation into what it terms a “suicide epidemic among veterans and service members.” AMVETS called for the inspectors general of the VA, Dept. of Defense (DOD), and Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) to immediately launch a joint investigation following the April 2019 deaths at VA facilities.  

This bill passed the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee by a unanimous voice vote with the support of 10 bipartisan cosponsors, including eight Democrats and two Republicans.

This bill has the support of American Veterans (AMVETS) and the Reserve Officers Association of the United States (ROA).


Of NoteOver the course of five days in April, three veterans died by suicide at VA campuses: two in Georgia and one in Austin, Texas, where a veteran shot himself at a VA clinic while seeking help. According to the Military Times, 23 veterans have killed themselves in VA medical centers over the 18-month period from January 2018 to April 2019. Due to these incidents, plus the fact that 20 veterans (of whom 14 are outside the VA system) have committed suicide daily for about a decade, pressure has been mounting on Congress and the VA to address veterans’ suicide rates. In a statement after the Georgia suicides, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said:

“The loss of even one veteran to suicide is unacceptable and devastating. Preventing veteran suicide remains a top priority for our committee, and I will continue working with VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to ensure the VA has the resources it needs and the accountability in place to make sure we are doing everything we can to prevent veteran suicide.”

The VA has been tracking suicides at VA facilities since 2017. Since the VA began tracking this, there have been over 260 suicide attempts, 240 of which were interrupted. Currently, whenever an unexpected death occurs at a VA facility, the VA conducts a comprehensive review of the case to see if changes and policies and procedures are warranted. However, while the VA is responsible for yearly suicide and suicide attempt reporting, it isn’t currently required to report on attempts or deaths that occur on VA properties.

According to Rep. Rose’s office, Congress has found that VA isn’t always forthcoming with timely information around suicide attempts at VA facilities. Rep. Rose’s office contends that the “key data points which this legislation requires from VA would help Congress fully understand the scope of [the veteran suicide] crisis to better serve our veterans in need.”

The Washington Post reports that veterans are 1.5 times as likely as civilians to die by suicide, after adjusting for age and gender. The VA reports that in 2016, the veteran suicide rate was 26.1 per 100,000, versus 17.4 per 100,000 for non-veteran adults.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / vadimguzhva)

AKA

FIGHT Veteran Suicides Act

Official Title

To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide to Congress notice of any suicide or attempted suicide of a veteran in a Department of Veterans Affairs facility, and for other purposes.

    We owe our veterans for being willing pawns in all our unconstitutional wars. Get them everything they need, but more importantly STOP ALL THE U.S. WARMONGERING.
    Like (58)
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    one step to help would be to stop blocking the use of medical cannabis for our PTSD veterans! Second is why should they report to someone who doesn’t do anything in the first place? medical marijuana has shown to not just help with PTSD, but has helped to stop the feelings of suicide as well. These treatments are being blocked by kickbacks from big pharmaceutical companies to congress. and you dare act as if you now all of a sudden care for our veterans.
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    If we want to stop veteran suicides, let’s stop sending them into our regime change wars that are only designed to be a profit-making venture for defense contractors!
    Like (38)
    Follow
    Share
    Definitely, so trump can see what crap he put in charge of the VA and so Congress can put pressure on him to change them and the system that treats these men and women so appallingly.
    Like (30)
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    I believe that the increase in depression and suicides in the United States, is a direct result of Conservative oppression. Republicans have denied PTSD for decades and have fought against providing mental healthcare and general healthcare. Conservatism is harmful and it kills.
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    Congress should know about every suicide and suicide attempt by a veteran whether it is at a VA facility or not. And additionally American citizens should see the statistics on a regular basis also. Know that every number represents a human life.
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    They should absolutely be reported. In fact, I’m of the mind that combat veterans who commit suicide should be included in the casualty count of the wars or conflicts in which they served. Their suicide rate is so phenomenally much higher than that of the general population that the only common denominator is their participation in war or conflict related combat. Veterans overall are twice as likely to commit suicide than non-veterans and combat veterans are five times more likely.
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    [VETERAN] House bill H.R. 2340 AKA the “FIGHT Veteran Suicides Act” I strongly recommend and support the House bill H.R. 2340 AKA the “FIGHT Veteran Suicides Act” which would require Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) to notify Congress within seven days of any suicide or attempted suicide that takes place in or on a VA facility’s grounds. Veterans are committing suicide at an alarming rate, and some of these suicides are occurring at VA facilities. In those cases, veterans are trying to send a message about poor care or other grievances they have with the VA — and Congress needs to heed these messages. Having the VA report to Congress on veteran suicides and suicide attempts on VA grounds will keep lawmakers informed. SneakyPete.......... 5.22.19..........
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    Our Vets deserve all possible resources.
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    Awareness, accountability, transparency are all vitally needed in our congress. This is a measure that seems to improve those vitals. We broke these veterans in most cases and have responsibility to make every effort to reach and repair them. 💔 Vote yes.
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    With this administration we need full transparency...
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    Sounds like a great idea, but I do not believe Congress serves in our best interests, anymore. Specifically, the Senate Republicans who are hellbent on only serving the president.
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    Yes. We owe our veterans much more than we give them. The high rate of veteran suicides is clear evidence that we are not taking care of them, especially when it comes to their mental health. If the VA cannot on its own help rectify this omission, then there should be oversight.
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    Just more paperwork. If the congress cared, something positive would have already been accomplished. This has been a issue for many years. This bill adds nothing to the solution.
    Like (7)
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    Do your duty to those you’ve used in unconstitutional wars.
    Like (6)
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    Yes our veterans have risked their lives to make us safe. We must do everything possible to help them in return. Congress should be notified of these suicides or attempts. So that they can give our veterans the help they need. It can't wait for the end of the year in a yearly report. Our veterans need help now.
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    Yes. Veterans suicides and suicide attempts at VA facilities should be reported to Congress.
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    Absolutely! This kind of report will serve to heighten awareness of the crisis in Veteran Mental health!
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    Vote yes!
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    Congress should be kept aware. We called on these people to serve their country in a life-changing way. We owe them.
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