New legislation proposed to help veterans

The men and women of the United States armed forces spend their careers doing difficult and taxing work. Not only does a career in the military require physical strength, but mental and emotional strength as well. This is particularly true for those who have served in battle.

Sadly, many of America’s veterans do not receive the support — either physically or emotionally — they need when they return home. Many have been left to deal with visible and invisible wounds — like post-traumatic stress disorder — by themselves. This has led to an increase in the number of suicides by American soldiers. In Tennessee, there is an average of 200 veteran suicides each year. Nationally, around 8,000 veterans commit suicide each year.

Congress has becomes concerned with these numbers. Recently, legislation was introduced that hopes to reduce the number of suicides. This legislation — known as the “Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act” — hopes to centralize mental health services for veterans. It also will offer incentives for mental health workers to work for the VA. If the legislation — named for a veteran that committed suicide in 2011 — is passed, supporters hope that the suicide rate will fall as men and women have better access to mental health services.

Tennessee veterans should understand that they have access to a wide variety of government services. In particular, those with physical or mental health needs may qualify for Social Security disability benefits when their injuries prevent them from working. Soldiers may need legal help in order to take advantage of these important disability benefits that they have fought hard to earn.

Source: The Lebanon Democrat & Wilson County News, “Veterans and suicide: Taking too many Tennessee lives,” John Michaelson, Feb. 4, 2015