Seven senators including Senators Mazie Hirono and Bernie Sanders voiced out their concerns about a Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General report highlighting failures within the department to screen and prevent suicide among veterans.
The report titled Evaluation of the Department of Defense’s Implementation of Suicide Prevention Resources for Transitioning Uniformed Service Members found that the DoD did not establish and implement oversight of the Mental Health Assessment. They also lacked proper suicide risk screening procedures for transitioning servicemembers.
In a letter to the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough, the senators highlighted the importance of first-year post-separation for service members, veterans, and their families.
“These suicide prevention screening deficiencies could affect patient care at an important point in a veteran’s life,” they wrote in the letter.
“DoD and VA must do more to continue assisting servicemembers as they transition from uniform to civilian life.”
Senators joined on the letter to the DoD and VA are namely Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
“Veterans and servicemembers have devoted their lives to defending our country and keeping us safe,” Hirono said.
“When they make the transition to civilian life, we must ensure that the DoD and VA will provide comprehensive care, including services that support holistic health and wellbeing.”