Missouri House committee to find ways to reduce veteran suicide rate (LISTEN)

by | Jul 20, 2022 | Legislature, Military, News, Show Me Today

To listen to the Show Me Today interview with Representative Dave Griffith, click below.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says Missouri’s veteran suicide rate is significantly higher than the national average. In 2019, 188 Missouri veterans died by suicide.

State Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, speaks on the Missouri House floor in Jefferson City on February 11, 2020 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

The Missouri House Interim Committee on Veterans Mental Health and Suicide will get down to business soon and search for ways to reduce the suicide rate among veterans. State Representative Dave Griffith, who served as a Green Beret in the Army’s Special Forces Group, is chairing the committee.

Griffith, R-Jefferson City, said the ranking is the wrong place for Missouri.

“We know that there’s a problem, but we don’t know what the solution is. I think looking at experts and looking at doctors and mental health folks and veteran organizations that are working with veterans to try and find ways that we can get beyond this, and really being able to tell the veteran community, ‘It’s okay to have problems. It’s alright with everything that you went through and what you did while you were serving. Now it’s our time to serve you,’” he said.

Griffith said connecting veterans to veteran organizations is key.

“If you’re having a hard time and you sit down and you want to have a conversation, the best person for you to be able to talk to is another veteran. You can have all the really good mental health workers out there that have a great education, but they can’t look at you and say, ‘I know how you feel,’ because they don’t. If you have not been outside the wire downrange, then you don’t know what it’s like to be in combat,” said Griffith.

Griffith said helping veterans has been his focus while serving in the Legislature.

“It has been my mission and I’m proud to carry that flag,” he said. “If we can save one life, we’ve done the job.”

The committee will hold its first hearing on July 27 at 11 a.m. at the Missouri Capitol. The hearing is open to the public and will also be livestreamed.

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