Tester, Ernst Push Department of Defense to Address Suicide Problem Plaguing the National Guard

(Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Joni Ernst are urging Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to address the growing rate of suicide among Guardsmen and women.

In a letter to the Secretary, the Senators expressed their frustration with the consistently high rates of suicide among all branches of the military, and the National Guard in particular. Tester and Ernst pointed out that Guardsmen and women are often left without access to behavioral or mental health care provided by the VA and suicide continues to be a problem for all of our brave service members.

“We refuse to accept this as anything normal or acceptable,” the Senators wrote. “We urge you to take immediate action, and request greater accountability of the funding for mental health and suicide prevention programs under your direction.”

Tester has been pushing for increased access to mental health care for military members. Tester introduced the CARE for Reservists Act which would allow for the DOD to fund needed behavioral or mental care, regardless of whether a reservist is within his or her pre-deployment window.

Ernst introduced the Prioritizing Veterans to Mental Health Care Act to provide options for our veterans to receive immediate authorization for non-VA mental health treatment if he or she felt they could not receive timely or adequate care at the VA.

The Senators’ letter to Secretary Carter can be found HERE.