One evening, an Oregon veteran was out at dinner with some of his good friends. They chatted with interest about “The Wall that Heals,” a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall that was scheduled to visit the town in a few days. He would never get to visit it. That night after dinner he died by suicide.
Another veteran from my district was out for a drive with his brother. While at a traffic stop, he was pulled over for a broken taillight. Then, with his brother next to him, he pulled a gun and shot himself.
Stories like these are not infrequent.
20 veterans die by suicide every day.
In 2016, VA reported 744 veteran deaths by suicide in the state of Oregon – a rate that puts Oregon veterans at twice the national average.
I’m Greg Walden and I wanted to take a few moments to talk to you about how important Veteran suicide prevention is to me and what we can all do to help those who served our country.
There are more than 20 million veterans in the U.S. and about 300,000 live in Oregon alone. More than half of all veterans in Oregon live in southern, central, and eastern Oregon. Keeping our veterans safe is one of my top priorities.
Suicide is a complex issue with no single cause. It is a national public health issue that affects people from all walks of life, not just veterans, and for a variety of reasons. But just as there is no single cause of suicide, no single organization or solution can address suicide alone.
We know that treatment works, and that recovery is possible, so we’re working hard to find ways to encourage Veterans to connect with the care they need and deserve.
We all have a role to play in preventing suicide among service members, veterans, and others in our communities. Together, we can win this fight.
To learn more about how you can “Be There” for veterans, I encourage you to go to www.BeThereforVeterans.com.