News Releases

Murray Presses Top VA Officials on Rise in Veteran Suicides, Efforts to Get Veterans the Care they Need to Help Ease Readjustment and Employment Challenges

Mar 03 2010

In questioning VA's top mental health official, Murray calls on the VA to improve transition services and increase efforts to stem the tide of veteran suicides

Listen to Senator Murray’s exchange with VA officials

Watch today’s Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing (Senator Murray’s comments begin at minute 106)

In questioning VA’s top mental health official, Murray calls on the VA to improve transition services and increase efforts to stem the tide of veteran suicides

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee, faced-off with top Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials on efforts to support veterans that are returning from battle with the invisible wounds of war. Specifically, Senator Murray asked the VA’s top mental health official about efforts to provide counseling services to help veterans with PTSD and other mental health challenges find employment. Senator Murray also called on the VA to do more to reverse rising veteran suicide rates.

“I was deeply disturbed by the news in January that the VA’s preliminary data show a dramatic increase in veterans suicide between 2005 and 2007,” Senator Murray said at today’s hearing. “The fact that our veterans are serving and sacrificing for our nation only to return to spiral into depression and suicide is appalling.   The preliminary data did suggest that access to VA services makes a difference in suicide prevention.  That is good news, but if we are truly going to make a difference, the VA needs a more comprehensive effort and these numbers show that the duty of providing mental health services and outreach to our returning veterans is still a challenge to the VA.”

See more information on today’s Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee hearing.

Senator Murray has been a leading advocate for improving services for mental health care for veterans in Washington state and around the country. She has worked to repeatedly increase VA budgets and yearly appropriations, has passed legislation that will provide the VA with advanced funding to plan and address health care needs, has sponsored and passed critical legislation to help prevent suicides, including the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act, and has worked to encourage the VA and Department of Defense to share information and techniques to best treat those returning from the battlefield.