A new federal proposal is aiming to curb the amount of veterans that take their lives in the United States. President Trump wants to stem the number of veteran suicides with a plan to boost outreach.
Currently about 20 veterans take their own lives each day and Nebraska state senator Tom Brewer, a veteran himself, says many vets grow frustrated trying to get the help they need. "They drop into a place where they can't get help and they give up and that's when you see suicide become a bigger problem. The reason for high suicide rate shouldn't be because they become frustrated with the system."
A new task force will look to provide funding to state and local programs and better coordinate research on suicide. Brewer says he believes outreach is exactly what needs to happen. "If I wasn't in the Legislature everyday, I think one of the things that needs to be done is somebody needs to set up a table in the lobby at the VA and just say, 'Hey, if you've got VA problems that aren't being solved, come tell me about it.' They're having issues that aren't being corrected and we're having them give up and we can't do that. They've given too much to our country to let them fall through the cracks."
Nationally, about 30 veterans per every 100,000 people take their lives. Nebraska's veteran suicide rate comes in below the national average, at approximately 20, but that number is still higher than the suicide rate for non-veterans, which is about 16 for every 100,000 people.
Brewer says here in Nebraska, big steps are being made to help make sure veterans don't fall to the wayside. "I think our state program is pretty solid. If you look at what we've done in Kearney with the new veteran's home. If you look at what we're doing with those things we can affect. I think we have a great director. I think John (Hilgert) does an amazing job with what he has available."
The senator says he believes better communication between the state entity and national entity would help drastically. "There needs to be somebody. A point of contact that manages every resource in Nebraska on the federal side that can then be that conduit for us to take issue to from our districts."
Any veterans who may be struggling can always call 800-273-TALK (8255) or visit the Nebraska VA's website here.