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Senate Bill Aims to Reduce Suicide in the Military


U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly says legislation nearing passage will be an enormous help in preventing suicide among military service members.  More than 3,000 active-duty soldiers have taken their lives since 2001.

The rate of suicide among National Guard members has grown more than any other military branch in the last five years.  That’s why legislation Donnelly authored requires annual mental health assessments for all servicemembers – including members of the National Guard and reservists. 

Donnelly says the bill also includes strong privacy protections, an important component in combating suicide.

“In the past we’ve found the situation that some folks were afraid to talk to people because they thought, ‘Hey I might not make sergeant or I might not make the next promotion,’” Donnelly says. “This makes sure that that can’t happen.”

Donnelly says the next step will be providing help for more than just active duty service members.

“The next step we want to take and make sure we have is for our veterans we have an overall comprehensive program for suicide prevention, to end homelessness for our veterans,” he said.

Donnelly’s bill was included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which the House passed last week.  He says he expects Senate approval by the end of the year.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.