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Congress Military Spending Bill Would Likely Address Servicemember Suicides

Col. Frederic A. Drummond Jr., Chicago District commander, speaks to Sen. Joe Donnelly during a Congressional Staff tour at Brandon Road Lock and Dam, Joliet, Ill., April 22, 2014.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District

As Suicide Prevention Month comes to a close, Senator Joe Donnelly says America’s military still has work to do to help prevent servicemember suicides.

Servicemember suicides are on pace this year to decline for the second consecutive year.  Yet for three straight years more members of the military have taken their own lives than have died in combat.

The U.S. House and Senate are working out details of this year’s military spending bill that will likely include provisions from Senator Donnelly’s military mental health bill.  The legislation is designed to help link servicemembers with more local mental health providers.

But Army Chief of Public Affairs Malcolm Frost says a big part of the battle to prevent servicemember suicides is changing the military culture:

“You have to be able to ask for help – and it’s okay to ask for help," Frost says. "And that stigma that existed, really a lot in what is that Army tough, Army strong, we’re soldiers, we’re 'hooah'…that has really started to melt away.”

Frost says as more military leaders acknowledge their own struggles with mental health issues, it helps all servicemembers ask for the kind of help Donnelly’s legislation would provide.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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