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Working To Prevent Military Suicides [AUDIO]

Two New Jersey Congressmen, from different sides of the isle, have teamed up to fight for more funding to secure $40 million for suicide prevention programs for veterans and active duty soldiers.

Flags to fly at half staff today for United States Army Sergeant Gollnitz
Markus Leiminger, Getty Images

Representatives Rush Holt and Jon Runyan, during a news conference in Trenton, called for the U.S. House Appropriations Committee to provide $40 million for military and veteran suicide prevention and outreach in fiscal year 2014.

If appropriated, the funds, which would include $20 million to prevent suicide among current service members and $20 million to prevent suicide among veterans, would represent a continuation of federal support that Holt and Runyan first secured in 2011.

“Putting a sign on the side of buses saying call this number if you feel suicidal is not enough,” said Holt. “It requires active outreach. It’s not adequate that if you feel suicidal, if you have problems – we say we have programs, give us a call.”

“Veterans issues have no partisan line down the middle of the room,” Congressman Jon Runyan said. “This is something I think we can all agree on. It’s an urgent need – it’s life and death.”

“We need this program – soldiers, veterans and their families need this program. I do not know how we look a young recruit right in the eye and do any less than that,” Linda Bean of East Brunswick, the mother of Sgt. Coleman Bean, who took his own life five years ago after serving in Iraq, said.

Chris Kosseff, the President and CEO of University Behavioral HealthCare of UMDNJ – and the Administrator of the Vets4Warriors counseling program, said we’ve reached a crisis stage because the brave men and women of the armed forces are taking their own lives. One per day on active duty, and 22 veterans a day are committing suicide.

“We’re not talking about some abstract numbers here.” he said. “We’re talking about people, people who we count on, people who we admire, people who we love…The support that can make the difference between life and death is simple, human and inexpensive. Programs such as Vets4Warriors do make a difference.”

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