A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs report shows that 185 Missouri military veterans died by suicide in 2021. The federal report says Missouri’s veteran suicide rate is significantly higher than the national rate.

The Missouri House Veterans Committee held a public hearing Tuesday that would task the Missouri Veterans Commission with expanding the work to prevent veteran suicide.

Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, said House Bill 1495 is his top priority this year. He is the chair of the House committee.

“Really unfortunately, in the last few years, we’ve only passed one veteran bill out of the Senate. And only one veteran bill in two years is really a…it’s a shame that that’s happened. But the veteran suicide is something that is a real big concern of mine, is concerned as the veteran community,” Griffith told Missourinet.

The Missouri Senate has been mired with Republican bickering over the past two years – leaving plenty of unfinished business by the legislature.

Griffith’s proposed plan would require the commission to team up with the Missouri Department of Mental Health to recommend ways to help reduce the veteran suicide rate, including additional programs and treatment options.

“Most of those are post 9/11 veterans, they are the ones who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Griffith. “And why that particular war is causing more suicide than others, I’m not real sure. We don’t have an answer to that.”

The committee has not yet voted on whether to advance Griffith’s bill, which would be subject to state funding approval.

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