Officials seek ways to combat veteran suicides


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Department of Veterans Affairs reports 6,000 veterans die by suicide each year. Organizations and agencies on Monday discussed ways to lower that statistic.

One of the big concerns is veterans becoming discouraged with the process of finding resources. 

“We’ve said it already, it’s difficult to ask, and when you do get the nerve to ask, you have to ask 20 different times to 20 different people in order to get something done,” said state Sen. Mike Regan (R-Cumberland/York), host of the roundtable. 

Ally Murr is a veteran and works with Just For Today Veteran Services in Lemoyne. She shared her experience with finding resources. 

“How I learned to get help for myself was not through the VA when I got out. It was from other veterans by word-of-mouth,” Murr said.

The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is working to create Pennsylvania VetConnect, a database for veterans to access a one-stop-shop for resources.

Regan also questioned the use of medication after sharing that his son, who is interested in serving in the military, takes medication for anxiety. 

“As we welcome the new generation of soldier into the military, is it proper, more appropriate or up-to-date that we would deprive them of medicine that could maybe take the suicidal thoughts away?” Regan asked. 

The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs says the military is hesitant to include something so critical because of the potential lack of access when overseas. 

Regan was asked to act on Senate Bill 90 that would allow courts to issue extreme risk protection orders when someone with mental health issues poses a threat to themselves or others.

“I haven’t seen this bill, so I will have to look at them and read them very carefully and make a decision,” Regan said. 

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