Vets’ suicide prevention efforts get $40 million

    Just in time to help those returning from the war in Iraq, more funding is available for suicide prevention programs for military personnel and veterans.

    U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, a Democrat from New Jersey, said Monday he has succeeded in securing $40 million in the new federal budget to help soldiers who have psychological scars from unrelenting stress on the battlefield.

    “Over the last two years, more American soldiers have died at their own hand than in combat,” he said. “On a typical day like today, 18 more veterans will take their own lives.”

    Holt said the allocation sends a message to military forces returning from combat that they’re not alone. The funding will go toward strengthening existing suicide prevention programs and creating new ones to help assist veterans in the communities where they live.

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    Holt said it will also help to publicize the services that are available.

    “It is not reasonable to expect a soldier or a veteran who is at risk of suicide to drop everything and go looking for help. It just doesn’t work that way,” he said. “We have to find ways to find them where they are.”

    It’s imperative that those services be publicized, according to Linda Bean of East Brunswick. Her son committed suicide in 2008 after returning from Iraq.

    “Although they’re coming home to a community that honors them and respects them, the community may be ill equipped to deal with their injuries, visible or invisible,” she said.

    A hotline that provides free counseling is available by calling 1-855-VET-TALK.

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