Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American called on both Congress and the president to take action in 2014 to reduce suicide among veterans on Monday.
IAVA co-founder Paul Rieckhoff said both omnibus legislation and an executive order are needed to help veterans and family members who still struggle to get help for mental illness.
“This is the time for our country to step up. This is the year we need Congress to get along and step forward,” he said on the second day of IAVA’s annual “Storm the Hill” event where the group presents its top priorities to Congressional staffers.
About 22 veterans die every day because of suicide, the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates. The best way to combat that, according to IAVA’s policy agenda, is to get the entire American public involved to reduce the stigma often associated with mental illness, as well as to increase the availability of quality care outside the VA.
Other priorities for the young veteran’s group this year include ending the VA backlog, strengthening the post-9/11 GI Bill, helping veterans get jobs and improving health care for all veterans.