COLUMBIA, Mo.- A Missouri congresswoman whose sprawling district includes Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster traveled to Columbia on Monday to raise awareness about PTSD and veteran suicides.
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, toured the Columbia Vet Center on Rangeline. She says 20 veterans a day are committing suicide, calling that unacceptable.
“They’ve served us and when they come back they deserve us to step up and to stand by them and to help them,” Hartzler says.
Hartzler describes the situation as heartbreaking.
“Each one of these individuals is not a statistic. They’re a husband, they’re a father, they’re a son, a daughter,” says Hartzler.
Congresswoman Hartzler, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill, says the Veterans Administration (VA) has not spent money appropriated last year by the Congress for veteran suicide prevention.
“We found out that money was not spent and in Congress, we are trying to focus on and make sure people are aware of this,” Hartzler says. “So it was very disheartening and actually angering.”
“Time” reported in December that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that VA officials failed to spend millions of dollars earmarked for veteran suicide prevention efforts in fiscal year 2018, “leading to a measurable decline in outreach activity.”
Hartzler met with veterans and their families during Monday’s tour. She praises the work being done at the Columbia Vet Center, including trauma counseling and transitional assistance. The facility, which works closely with the Harry Truman VA Medical Center in Columbia, also assists veterans who suffered sexual trauma while serving our country.
The Columbia Vet Center says it employs preventive intervention strategies to enhance the quality of life for veterans.
The facility says it “provides access to veterans in a setting that is stress-free”, adding that 86 percent of staff members are veterans.
Click here to listen to U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, brief Brian Hauswirth and other mid-Missouri reporters on July 1, 2019 at the Columbia Vet Center on Rangeline:
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