House Committee Addresses Suicide Risks Among Veterans
Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans' groups testified on Wednesday ata House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing examining the issue ofsuicide, CQ Today reports. The latest statistics gathered by VA donot "demonstrate an increased risk of suicide among (
Katz said VA has made improvements in its efforts to reduce the suicide rate ofveterans with the implementation of "a major suicide prevention program,the most comprehensive in the nation" (Hefling, AP/Long Island Newsday, 12/13). Katz also stressed the importance ofadjusting for factors that could impact suicide data, saying, "Those whocome to the VA for care tend to be older, less socio-economically well off, andmore likely to have a mental health condition or another chronic illness."He added that it is "by no means surprising that those receiving care fromVA have higher suicide rates that those in the general population" (CQToday, 12/12).
Mike Bowman, a parent of an Illinois National Guard servicemember thatcommitted suicide in 2005 after serving in
Peake Promises To Improve Mental Health Services
In related news, JamesPeake, President Bush's nominee for VA secretary, said he wants to work quicklyto improve mental health care services for veterans, AP/Newsday reports. In a 22-page disclosure submitted tothe Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and acquired by the AssociatedPress, Peake said he wants to increase staff at VA clinics to help fightservicemembers' resistance to seek treatment for depression. Peake also said hewants to implement improved plans for veterans' health care in times of war andother national crises.
In addition, Peake said that he would work to retain top VA officials throughmeasures that do not include performance bonuses awarded without regard tomerit, as was the case under former VA Secretary Jim Nicholson, AP/Newsdayreports. The Senate committee on Thursday will vote on his nomination (Yen,AP/Long Island Newsday, 12/13).
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