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Murkowski Leading Capitol Hill Fight Against Combat Veteran Suicide

Senator - We Must Win the Final Front of Our Wars, Coming Home

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Lisa Murkowski today co-sponsored the Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act of 2014 (the SAV Act) to empower America’s soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan against the continuing toll of war and self-threatening behavior.

With veteran suicide claiming 22 American lives a day on average, the SAV Act would dramatically improve the care available to veterans, remove layers of red tape and expand safeguards that provide critical therapy and medication to those suffering from the continued trauma associated with war.

“Every year, thousands of Alaska soldiers and airmen deploy to dangerous areas and defend our nation and our interests; when they return back home to their communities and families, too many of them find themselves in a new conflict – within themselves,” said Murkowski.  “It’s a fight for their futures and a fight to transition back to a ‘new normal’ for them, and it’s a battle where we must, as a nation, stand by their side.  The SAV Act will deliver for them the success they delivered for us.”

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff lauded Murkowski’s co-sponsorship, saying “Senator Murkowski has sent a strong message to vets in Alaska and across the nation that combating suicide must be a bipartisan effort.”

The Suicide Prevention for America's Veterans Act (SAV Act):

  • Extends Special Combat Eligibility from 5 to 15 Years: Improves access to care for troops and veterans by extending combat eligibility. 
  • Reviews Wrongful Discharges: An unknown numbers of troops who struggle with mental health issues have been discharged for behavior often caused by invisible injuries. This legislation sets up a review process for potentially wrongful discharges.

  • Increases Professionals in the VA: This legislation increases the capacity to meet demands for mental health care professionals by repaying medical school loans for psychiatrists who commit to long-term service in the VA.

  • Improves Mental Health Care and Suicide Prevention Programs: This legislation requires an annual review of care programs within DOD and the VA to ensure resources are effectively combatting the problem.
  • Ensures Training for Mental Health Care Providers: This legislation requires the VA and DOD to ensure mental health care providers have special training to identify veterans at-risk for suicide.
  • Creates Greater Collaboration Between the VA and DOD: Provides continuous and seamless care to veterans by putting a timeline on the NDAA mandate to make all DOD and VA records electronic.
  • Establishes a Common Drug Formulary Between DOD and the VA: Requires DOD and the VA to adopt the same drug formulary for prescription medication to ensure seamless care.

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