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Brindisi Introduces Legislation To Address Veteran Suicide Rates

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Congressman Anthony Brindisi has introduced legislation to try and bring down high veteran suicide rates. On Friday, Brindisi announced the bill at the American Legion Post 1645 in Binghamton, saying the statistics are alarming.

"We lose 20 veterans to suicide every day," says Brindisi, "In the last 18 months, at least 23 veterans have lost their lives to suicide at VA medical centers. This is wrong and unacceptable."

Brindisi's co-sponsors on this bill are two republicans: Congressman Jim Banks from Indiana and Congressman Mike Bost from Illinois. The bipartison Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act requires the Comptroller General to perform an assessment of the Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Coordinators Office. This assessment would look at staffing and funding among other things. Brindisi says current employees are stretched thin and need more help and resources.

"Our counselors are overworked. They have not enough counselors to really meet the demand that's out there right now," says Brindisi, "So, what we want to do is make sure we have enough counselors in place so we need to assess the whole system, system wide to determine if there's enough counselors in place and if there's not we need to allocate more resources so we can get veterans that treatment."

Brindisi says this is one of several bills addressing veterans mental health that will be brought forward in front of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. He urges anyone who needs help to reach out to the VA or veterans community organizations.