The National Commander of the American Legion talks about the veteran suicide crisis
The Crisis of Veteran Suicide is an issue we have talked about for years on the Price of Freedom.
Something we've seen way too much of over the last couple years is the increase of veterans committing suicide on VA Hospital campuses.
It's an tragedy that hit way too close to home last month when two veterans committed suicide at VA facilities in Georgia on the same weekend.
Tonight in the Price of Freedom we talked to the National Commander of the American Legion about veterans suicide across the country and what is being done to address the crisis.
Last week the National Commander of the American Legion Brett Reistad spent a few day in Georgia. We caught up with him at a lunch event in Rossville. Part of his job is to visit American Legion posts across the country.
I asked him when he talks to veterans what are they most concerned about. He said specific VA issues and then he said the crisis of veterans suicide.
A report released last year shows about 20 veterans commit suicide each day.
"14 out of 20 veterans that commit suicide never had contact with the VA," Reistad said. "So the focus is trying to get them the help that they need before the problem escalates to suicide."
According to a story in the Washington Post from February there were 19 suicides on VA campuses from October 2017 to November 2018.
And there have been more since then including two in Georgia, one in Austin, Texas, and another in Cleveland, Ohio. All four of these suicides happened last month.
According to the VA report veterans suicides overall have dropped slightly in recent years but Veterans are now 1.5 times more likely than non-veterans to commit suicide
"I think there needs to be a plan, and I think that plan is coming together," Brett Reistad said. "The VA is working on an initiative right now. They're bringing the veterans service organizations in to help support."
But Brett Reistad made it very clear this crisis is not just a veterans issue. It's not just a VA issue. This crisis affects the entire country.
"It's a large bureaucracy. It's not gonna happen over night. It's not just up to the VA to deal with this. It's up to everybody. I mean it's a problem that affects us all, and I think we all have an obligation to look out for our veterans and to get them help when they need it "
President Trump signed an executive order in March .. to set up a cabinet level task force to help end the crisis.,