WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) issued the following statement following the tragic death of a veteran by suicide in the parking lot of the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center on Monday, April 29, 2019:
“I join the entire Northeast Ohio community in sending prayers and condolences to this veteran’s family. My heart breaks trying to understand the pain and suffering that drives 20 veterans a day to suicide. That is 20 too many. We cannot allow the men and women who have served our country to slip through the cracks. I remain committed to improving health services for our nation’s veterans and will continue to advocate for them until they receive the care they need.”
While suicide is a national concern, rates among veterans are on average 1.5 times higher than those who have not served in the military. Monday’s tragedy was the fourth veteran suicide at a VA facility this month alone, and the ninth this year. According to the VA, 6,079 veterans committed suicide in 2016. Of those, 245 were Ohioans. Data shows that more than 6,000 veterans have died by suicide each year since 2008, with veterans ages 18 to 34 suffering the highest rate.
“We can and must do better for our veterans,” said Dave. “They have provided an invaluable service by defending America and our freedoms, and that service comes with great sacrifice. As the son of a WWII veteran who was wounded on the battlefield, I’m no stranger to the struggles veterans face when they return home after combat. We all have the responsibility to provide them with the care and support they have earned.”
Since being sent to Washington on behalf of Ohio’s 14th Congressional District, Dave has worked tirelessly to improve care for our nation’s veterans, not only through legislation that increases resources for suicide prevention efforts and expands mental health services, but also through community outreach. Just last week, Dave met with Dominick Farinacci and Staff Sergeant Jaymes Poling, the creators of Modern Warrior Live, a production that tells the story of Poling’s experience returning to civilian life after his military service. Having been performed at theaters, veteran organizations, mental health conferences, high schools and trauma centers across the country, Modern Warrior Live is bridging the gap between veteran and civilian communities, destigmatizing the mental health challenges faced by countless veterans and promoting a deeper understanding of the challenges they face when transitioning back home.
If you are a veteran in crisis, or know someone who is, free, confidential support is available every hour of every day. You can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, send a text to 838255, or chat online.