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Mr. RODNEY DAVIS of Illinois. Thank you to the gentlelady from Arizona for putting this Special Order together. It is a true privilege to stand here to highlight an issue that needs to be dealt with here in America.
Mr. Speaker, our veterans are those who have protected our freedoms that allow us to stand on this floor and debate the issues of the day. Without their sacrifices, we wouldn't have the America that we know today.
I am surprised when I read the statistics about veteran suicides. The number that dies by his own hand each year is greater than the official number of all U.S. war deaths in more than a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Between 2005 and 2011, over 49,000 veterans have taken their lives, and more than 69 percent of all veteran suicides were among those 50 and older; and nearly one in five suicides nationally is a veteran, even though veterans only make up 10 percent of the U.S. population.
We need to take steps to ensure that our veterans have the mental health sources they need. We need to make sure that we raise awareness and do away with the stigma of suicide so that veterans feel comfortable finally reaching out for help. When soldiers are scared to come forward about their mental health problems because they think they will be labeled a ``coward,'' they continue down a dark and lonely path that eventually could lead to suicide. Instead, we need to ask our struggling veterans to ask for help.
As my colleague from Illinois just mentioned, the Department of Veterans Affairs launched a crisis line that since 2007 has answered more than 890,000 calls and has made over 30,000 rescues. In 2009, they added a chat line for text, and over 108,000 texts have been sent. These are the types of resources that we need to provide those who have provided so much protection and freedom for us here in America, and I stand here today to work with my colleagues across the aisle to make things happen.
Thank you again to the gentlelady from Arizona.
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