How government is working to improve suicide prevention among veterans

Local News

WASHINGTON (ABC4 News) The Wounded Warrior Project released its annual report on veteran mental health and suicide Tuesday.

It includes a five-year study of the issues contributing to service members taking their own lives. 

Veteran Florentino Carter used to conduct combat operations overseas. He says dodging explosive devices left his team wounded deeper than the eye could see.

“My physical injury the VA took care right away. But the other injuries that are not physical are what we have to get more attention to,” said Carter.

A new report says mental health remains a major battle for those who served.

“Each of the statistics represent an individual that is being impacted by a various issue of concern,” said Melanie Mousseau with the Wounded Warrior Project.

Seventy-eight percent of the 33,000 veterans surveyed say they experience post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Keita Franklin with the Department of Veterans Affairs says that data can help guide the agencies suicide prevention efforts.

 “To make sure we are organizing the right programs and putting the right resources in place for long-term health and wellness of veterans,” said Franklin.

Earlier this year, the Trump Administration signed an executive order directing the Defense Department, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs to remove barriers and improve access to mental health care for veterans.

“We are pushing out with broad-based tele-mental health capabilities and same-day access to care. And also making sure veterans know they can get help through any of our vet centers nationwide,” said Franklin.

Officials hope the survey will raise awareness about the issues veterans face and will lead to positive changes that will help save the lives of American heroes.

The Utah Department of Health would like to remind Utahns that suicide is preventable. If you or someone you know needs help, there’s the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For more information, visit utahsuicideprevention.org.

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