Congress to Hold Hearings on Stopping Suicides and Ending Homelessness

November 16, 2007

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Announces Hearing on Mental Health for Veterans

Washington, D.C. – Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) announced that the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing to examine current mental health care available to our nation’s veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  The hearing will focus on two recent reports: a National Alliance to End Homelessness study which showed that one out of four homeless are veterans and a CBS News report that found the rate of suicide among veterans is double that of the general population. 

“These two reports only highlight what we do not know about our veterans,” said Chairman Filner.  “I think the report on homeless veterans underestimates the reality of the number of America ’s heroes that are on the street tonight.  The tragedy of homeless veterans is that we know what we need to do to prevent it, but neither the military nor the VA bureaucracy is ready to do this.  What is worse is that we know the repercussions of not acting.”

The hearing will focus on recent statistical data from private sources as a platform to discuss comparative data from the VA on these issues.  Witnesses invited will include members of the media, scholars from the mental health care profession and representatives from the VA.  The hearing will take place in December. 

“One homeless veteran living on the street is one too many,” said Mike Michaud, Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health.  “VA has very good homeless veterans programs, but the need is still great.  We must understand the factors, including mental health and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, that cause veterans to represent a disproportionately larger segment of the homeless population in our country.  We must find solutions to get these heroes back on their feet.”

“When we hear a report that the suicide rate for veterans is double that of the general population, and that the Department of Veterans Affairs isn’t even keeping track of the problem, clearly we need to ask some serious questions,” said Harry E. Mitchell, Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. “Our veterans deserve better, and so do their families.”

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