[caption id=“attachment_7728” align=“alignright” width=“190”] Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) goes through the line at the Operation USO Care Package assembly event on Sept. 11 in Washington, D.C. USO photo by Mike Theiler[/caption]
Seventy members of Congress turned out for an Operation USO Care Package (OUCP) assembly event on September 11 in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. But putting together the much-appreciated bags of goodness for troops downrange wasn’t the only thing on their minds.
September is Suicide Prevention Month, and with the staggering rise in military suicides in recent years—as of July the Army was on pace for a 200 suicides this year alone—there appears to be an even greater drive to address the issue than ever before. The USO spoke to a few Congressmen who attended the OUCP event about the rising rates of suicide in America’s military ranks. Here are their thoughts:
Rep. Sylvestre Reyes (D-TX), founding co-chair of the USO Congressional Caucus
“I am proud that Fort Bliss is leading the way through mental health screening and counseling in the Army. It’s something we want to keep supporting and pushing forward so that not a single military person feels the desperation to have to contemplate committing suicide. Only then can we as a nation say that we’ve done everything we can to support our men and women in uniform and their families, because the solution is going to be to involve the families so they can have that support system.”
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), member of the USO Congressional Caucus
“The main thing is getting them together with their loved ones. A lot of the suicides are over personal relationships that may have deteriorated while [a service member] is overseas. … There’s a whole host of things. Some of it is a direct result of PTSD and traumatic brain injury. I think we have a responsibility to deal with it. They suffer enough and risk enough when they’re in a combat position, that suffering and risk [should] not continue when they get home. They need to be embraced by their families, their loved ones, their communities and this country.”
If you are a service member or veteran dealing with tough times—or are concerned about a member of the military family in this type of situation—visit the Veterans Crisis Line at veterancrisisline.net or call 1-800-273-8255.
— Eric Brandner, USO Director of Story Development
More from the USO
Nov 16, 2016
‘You Just Feel at Peace’: How USO North Carolina - Jacksonville’s Beirut Room Serves as a Space for Reflection and Healing
In light of the deep impact the 1983 Beirut bombing had on the Jacksonville community over the years, the USO center, with help from Lowe’s Home Improvement, created a special room in its center to honor the victims, survivors and family members affected by the bombing. The space – known as the “Beirut Room” by center staff and volunteers – features a granite wall monument, stained glass angels and several other photos and mementos memorializing those killed in the bombing.
Nov 16, 2016
USO Opens Wellness Focused Center on Joint Base San Antonio
After 75 years of welcoming service members home, the USO received a homecoming of its own. After a grand opening ceremony on Nov. 10, USO San Antonio staff and volunteers officially welcomed guests into the new, state-of-the-art USO San Antonio center on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.