ICYMI: Esty Calls on VA Secretary Shulkin to Focus on Military Suicide Prevention in Committee Hearing
WASHINGTON, D.C. - At a hearing of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs with Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin this morning, Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) called for a greater bipartisan focus on the issue of military suicide prevention. Esty noted a local family’s experience in 2014 when a veteran with PTSD was in danger of harming himself or others with a firearm. While that standoff ended peacefully thanks to the heroic efforts of a friend and fellow veteran, the family of the at-risk veteran found the VA’s Crisis Line “not at all helpful,” Esty said.
“We need to hear from you…what resources you need and what training is necessary, because frankly, we were just fortunate that a friend was able to get there in time,” Esty asked of Shulkin in the hearing.
Esty expressed concerns over the retention of mental health professionals tasked with assisting veterans in need, many of whom report issues with overwork and significant caseloads. The Secretary noted a number of challenges on hiring and retention and pledged to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to improve services by ensuring the VA has the people it needs to do its job.
Watch the video of the full hearing here. Esty’s remarks begin at the 2:13:40 mark.