Missouri is on the cusp of stepping up its efforts to fight veteran suicide. The Missouri Legislature has sent to the governor a wide-ranging package intended to help the state’s military community.

In that plan are several items headed up by Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, a decorated U.S. Army Green Beret veteran. One provision would require the Missouri Veterans Commission to create a new priority – helping to fight veteran suicide.

“They’re going to look at what the MOS, or military occupation service, what they did, how many times they were deployed, where they were deployed, how many times were they in combat, how many times did their life come in danger, what’s their age, where do they live? There’s a number of factors I think have got to go into what brings someone to suicide ideation. But even more, to actually carry through with that,” Griffith told Missourinet.

The package would require the state to recommend programs, treatment, and other avenues to designed to prevent veteran suicide.

“It sends a message to our veterans that what you did matters,” he said. “And what we can do for you really does matter. When it comes to suicide, we want to try to find some solutions to some of the issues that we have that are causing Missouri veterans to commit suicide.”

Some military parents who are prepping for a deployment have the added stress of working out a custody and visitation arrangement involving their children. Another Griffith-led provision aims to help those parents. Griffith said this piece allows them to ask a judge for help.

“If you’ve got maybe the grandparents want to have them involved, or you want to have an aunt and uncle, or maybe have a best friend that is real close to your kids- you want somebody to be able to watch after their best interests, so that when you’re gone, the last thing you have to worry about is what’s going on with your kids,” he said.

According to Griffith, the item in the bill is intended to be flexible, but also protect the deployed parent’s rights.

“The court order can decide whether that parent who’s deployed is going to relinquish those rights and let the other parent keep the child for the entire time while they’re gone. Or they can set up an alternative plan to where maybe the grandparents, maybe they’re the ones that can take the other 50%. Every circumstance is different,” he said.

Other key provisions in the sweeping bill would allow a full state tax deduction for military and National Guard enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses.

Another provision Griffith successfully included would award veterans who served on active duty or National Guard members from 2001 to 2021.

The bill would also make it easier for veterans to get a handicap placard for their vehicle, and it would cover the cost of military specialty license plates for veterans.

“For the last three years, we have only had one bill that’s passed for veterans out of the House in the Senate. But this year we made a real big difference in their lives,” he said.

Sen. Ben Brown, R-Washington was the bill sponsor. For more information about Senate Bill 912, click here.

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