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Democratic contender Elizabeth Warren vows to halve veterans' suicide rate in four years
(Reuters) - Democratic U.S. presidential contender Elizabeth Warren vowed on Tuesday to cut the suicide rate for veterans in half within four years, as part of a plan she unveiled to help service members and their families.
Warren, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election, said that if elected, she would tackle the problem in her first term by investing in mental healthcare, research into the causes of military suicides and providing annual mental health checks for service members.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 17 U.S. veterans kill themselves every day, based on 2017 data, the most recent available. In 2017, 6,139 veterans died by suicide, 129 more than in 2016 - a rate 1.5 times higher than for non-veteran adults.
The U.S. senator from Massachusetts, who has three brothers who served in the U.S. military, also rolled out a slew of other proposals to help current and former military personnel, including guaranteeing them pay and health benefits commensurate with those provided to most civilians.
Warren follows several other Democratic rivals in releasing plans to help the military and veterans. They include Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a veteran who deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 as part of the Navy Reserve. He has also advocated investing heavily in treating veterans' mental health.
Warren and Buttigieg, along with former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, are in the top tier of 17 Democratic candidates vying for their party's nomination. Voting in the Democratic nominating contest begins in Iowa in February.
Warren also made support for military wives and families a key part of her plan. That includes increasing job and education opportunities for military spouses, especially on bases; investing in childcare centers and schools on bases; and improving military housing.
Warren said she would reverse Trump's ban on transgender individuals serving in the military on her first day in office, take steps to eliminate sexual assault in the service, and protect veterans and family members of serving military personnel from deportation.
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press "1" to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.
Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.
"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."
‘I made promises to the people that I lost’— How the Iraq war forged a Navy SEAL’s path to Harvard Medical School and NASA
Navy Lt. Jonny Kim went viral last week when NASA announced that he and 10 other candidates (including six other service members) became the newest members of the agency's hallowed astronaut corps. A decorated Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School, Kim in particular seems to have a penchant for achieving people's childhood dreams.
However, Kim shared with Task & Purpose that his motivation for living life the way he has stems not so much from starry-eyed ambition, but from the pain and loss he suffered both on the battlefields of Iraq and from childhood instability while growing up in Los Angeles. Kim tells his story in the following Q&A, which was lightly edited for length and clarity:
New Vietnam War movie 'The Last Full Measure' takes some well-deserved shots at the military’s award process
Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.
With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.