WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Tuesday released the following statement after the White House announced a new initiative to deal with the crisis of gun suicides among U.S. service members and veterans. Since 2010, more than 65,000 veterans have died by suicide. In the U.S., firearms are the most common method used in suicide deaths.
“For far too long, Washington has paid little attention to the role that guns play in our country’s suicide epidemic. And for far too long, we have failed military service members and veterans who live with invisible wounds that drive them to self-harm. That’s unacceptable. I’m glad to see the Biden administration taking comprehensive action to address these intertwined crises. Study after study tells us that limiting access to firearms for those in crisis saves lives. That’s why this plan dedicates resources to expand gun safety storage and education initiatives. And it’s why this plan aims to strengthen health care services for members of the military and veterans,” said Murphy. “We need to do everything in our power to support those who stepped up to serve our nation. Plain and simple.”
Last year, Murphy wrote to the Trump administration to urge them to follow through on promises to end the veteran suicide epidemic. Murphy also asked the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to implement comprehensive mental health care plans to ensure veterans’ wellbeing during and after the pandemic.
In 2018, Murphy won passage of his Honor our Commitment Act, which requires the VA to, for the first time, provide mental and behavioral health care to hundreds of thousands of at-risk combat veterans and sexual assault survivors who received Other-than-Honorable (OTH) discharges, sometimes referred to as ‘Bad Paper’ discharges. Previously, these veterans were denied access to mental health and behavioral health services through the VA.
Murphy has been a vocal advocate for strengthening America’s mental health care system. In June, Murphy and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced the Parity Implementation Act to incentivize further compliance with federal mental health laws. In 2016, Murphy and Cassidy co-authored the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act, which was signed into law by President Obama, and they are currently working together to gather feedback from stakeholders to update the legislation.