Donnelly Supports Military Suicide Prevention Bill
May 8, 2014 — Indiana Public Broadcasting —
Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly is pushing a bill aimed at preventing military suicides through more screening and improved mental health services. As Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith reports, it’s Donnelly’s second try at legislation addressing the problem that’s killing hundreds of servicemembers each year:
The first bill Joe Donnelly ever introduced as a U-S Senator was the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Ac t of 2013, named for a Hoosier National Guard member who took his life while home on leave from Afghanistan. It didn’t go anywhere and Donnelly says this year’s version is vastly improved. He says that includes expanding mental health screenings to more than just those within the deployment cycle:
“That members of the National Guard and Reserve also be able to get these opportunities to talk to somebody and to try to have their challenges dealt with.”
The legislation would also create a working group between the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services to identify best practices and generate improvements in mental health services. Donnelly recently returned from a trip to Israel and he says the U.S. could consider systems like the ones the Israeli military uses.
“Much of the training goes to the first line supervisors, much of the training goes to people right in the field who can then provide information on any soldier they feel is suffering from challenges.”
Donnelly says the bill is also meant to reiterate that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness and that servicemembers’ privacy will be maintained.