As Americans celebrate Veterans Day, one man who served his country and now advocates for fellow men and women who serve or have served in the military said the country needs to come together to stem the suicide epidemic that leads to 21 veterans taking their own lives every day.
“The suicide issue is definitely the number one issue that I think we’re all talking about and trying to work on,” Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq an Afghanistan Veterans of America and Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy Reserve, told SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Sunday.
Breitbart Political Editor and host Matt Boyle and Butler noted in the interview that while the Trump administration has put a priority on veterans, including partnering with the Veterans Administration to form the Veteran Suicide Prevention Task Force earlier this year, and while bills to help vets are pending in Congress, it is not enough.
“The suicide rate is actually going up,” Butler said. “So we’re just not making fast enough progress.”
“We need the administration and Congress to work together to move quickly to really advance legislation to really input policies to make the VA more accessible to more veterans; make more opportunities to those who are outside of the VA to get help at their local and regional areas,” Butler said.
It has been months since the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019 was introduced in the Senate. The legislation, named after a retired Navy Seal who committed suicide, would, in part, provide grants to non-governmental organizations that can provide mental health care to veterans outside of the VA network.
Butler said the veterans suffer from a wide range of challenges when readjusting to civilian life, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health issues — challenges that aren’t a quick fix.
“We need long-lasting care and we need to get over the stigma of talking about mental health issues because that’s another part of the problem,” Butler said. “If we’re not comfortable talking about it, we’re not going to get people into the care that they need.”
“No one should ever be ashamed or embarrassed to talk about the fact that they’re struggling from a mental health standpoint because so many of us do deal with it,” Butler said.
Butler shared two important 24/7 resources available to military personnel. The Veterans Crisis Line — 800-273-8255 and the Veterans Text Line, 838255.