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VA Field Hearing in Columbus Addresses Suicide Rate Among Vets

Sen. Sherrod Brown and vets in Columbus

Ohio veterans as well as top VA officials met in Columbus today to talk about issues including suicide. For Ohio Public Radio, WOSU’s Esther Honig reports on the field hearing organized by a member of the Veterans Affairs committee.

Ohio is home to over 800,000 veterans, the majority of which are over the age of 55. Brown, who sits on the senate Veterans Affairs Committee, says he’s most concerned about the alarmingly high rate of suicides among vets-- about 22 individuals each day. He says it’s critical to get vets in touch with resources when they reenter civilian life.

“If they’re getting treatment in the VA the suicide rate is significantly lower than if they have sort of walked away, or been ignored or abandoned by the VA.”

Brown says information shared at the hearing will be used to craft legislation, or put pressure on the VA to resolve persistent issues, such as the current staffing shortage of 40,000 workers nationally. Despite the problem with long wait times at the VA, Brown says he is opposed to privatization.