Nov. 5 (UPI) — Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled Tuesday a goal to reduce rates of veteran suicide in her first term if elected, according to a new plan posted to her website.
Warren, D-Mass., cited a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention report that 45,390 U.S. adults died by suicide in 2017, including 6,139 veterans, an average of nearly 17 each day. The suicide rate for veterans was 1.5 times the rate for non-veteran adults.
“Every single one of these deaths is a tragedy that could have been prevented,” Warren said in the plan. “As president, I will set a goal of cutting veteran suicides in half within my first term — and pursue a suite of concrete polices to make sure we get there.”
Warren proposed investing in research on causes of suicide, especially among veterans, and providing annual mental health exams for service members to reach the goal.
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, who has been among front-runners, has three brothers in the military and unveiled the goal as part of a plan for veterans, military and their families.
The plan called “Keeping Our Promises to Our Service Members, Veterans, and Military Families,” pledges to do more to ensure veterans get the benefits promised to them.
“In past years, Congress and the Pentagon have too often sought to balance the budget on the backs of our service members through proposals for lower pay raises, increased out-of-pocket costs, and cuts to benefits like housing and commissaries,” Warren said in the plan. “Proposals that undermine total compensation are a betrayal of our obligation to our service members, and they undermine our ability to recruit and retain the best possible All Volunteer Force.”
Warren proposed pay raises for military and ensuring housing allowances keep pace with market rates. She also proposed improving education benefits by cutting off federal dollars from “shady for-profit colleges” which abuse veteran students benefits under the GI Bill.
The plan also proposes providing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “new tools and additional authority” to protect veterans, the military and their families from predatory lending.
Some other proposals include increasing military spouse support and funding for wounded warriors and their families, and prosecuting sexual harassment as a “stand-alone crime” under military law.