Men’s Health Network joined members of the Congressional Men’s Health Caucus last week on Capitol Hill for a congressional briefing on veterans and service members’ mental health and suicide.
“Men’s health is more than just being healthy, but it’s the mental part of it too,” Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) said. “We’re all in this fight together—there’s not one of us who could be in this room if our veterans weren’t out there keeping us safe. There is 1 percent of our population protecting 100 percent of our freedoms.” Mullin is co-chair of the Congressional Men’s Health Caucus with Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. (D-NJ).
Veteran suicide rates are about 50 percent higher than rates among the general population, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The public-health crisis of rapidly rising suicide rates, particularly among veterans, was the subject of a standing-room-only Capitol Hill briefing on January 15 sponsored by the Men’s Health Network and the Congressional Men’s Health Caucus.
A panel of speakers addressed the causes of suicide among both veterans and active-duty members of the armed services, and suggested ways to reduce this deadly toll. Dr. Adam Walsh, the director of research and program evaluation for the Defense Department’s Suicide Prevention Program, said that 517 active-adult service members (94 percent male) also committed suicide in 2017. All told, he said, 1.4 percent of service members have attempted suicide, and half of these have never previously exhibited mental-health problems.