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$40M for Military Suicide Prevention In 2012 Federal Budget

Men and women in uniform teetering on the edge of suicide get a larger helping hand back from the brink in the federal spending plan approved in the House and Senate.

Rep. Rush Holt - official
Rep, Rush Holt (official portrait)

The budget includes $40,000,000 to enhance efforts aimed at suicide counseling, treatment and prevention of battle traumas such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

New Jersey Representative Rush Holt (D-12) revealed the details Monday. The programs covered in the allotment, he says, were originally encased in his Sergeant Coleman S. Bean Ready Reserve Suicide Prevention Act.

Holt crafted the measure after the tragedy of the East Brunswick noncommissioned officer who took his own life between tours of Iraq.

Bean’s assignment, Holt says, factored into his inability to get treatment from either the Defense Department or the Veterans’ Administration.

“Because he was a member of the Individual Ready Reserve…a pool of soldiers not assigned to any particular unit but available for mobilization,” says Holt, “he couldn’t get the treatment for his condition.”

Last week, Holt and U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced the expansion of the Vets2Warriors counseling service to a nationwide status from its origins at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Piscataway. He hopes that the initiatives will let current and former military members learn that “they’re not alone.”

The Congressman says that he hopes the allotment, half dedicated to veterans and half to current enlistees, will help curb a disturbing trend.

“Over the last two years, more American soldiers have died by their own hands than in combat,” says Holt.  “And on a typical day like today, 18 more veterans will take their own lives.”

Military members past and present who seek counseling can call toll-free: 1-855-VET-TALK (1-855-838-8255).


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