JANUARY 25TH, 2008 | Harkin for Senate
Last November, Senator Harkin wrote and helped pass into law the Josh Omvig Suicide Prevention Act that directed the Department of Veterans Affairs to integrate mental health services into veterans’ primary care, and step up counseling and other mental health services for returning war veterans and their families.
With new data showing that suicide among active duty troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan is on the rise, Senator Harkin is moving quickly to introduce legislation next week to prevent suicide among the brave men and women who are actively serving our country.
Harkin’s proposed “Armed Forces Suicide Prevention Act” will do the following:
Conduct a national mental health campaign to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues, encourage people to seek help when needed, and increase awareness that mental health is essential to overall health and that treatments can promote recovery from mental illness.
Involve military leadership in outreach efforts by incorporating suicide prevention training in officer and senior enlisted training courses.
Implement annual suicide prevention training of all active duty, Reserve, and National Guard members.
Strengthen basic lifesaver training and training for military medics and medical personnel to incorporate recognition of risk factors for suicide, identification of signs and symptoms of mental health issues, and protocols for responding to crisis situations involving soldiers who may be at high risk for suicide.
Utilize Critical Incident Stress Management teams within units to prevent and respond to traumatic events. Such teams will consist of key personnel such as medical staff, chaplains, family support staff, and peers.
Provide post-deployment follow-up and assistance for family members and peers of members of the Armed Services on mental health problems, substance use, and financial and relationship difficulties, including information on resources to address these issues.