The AMVETS veterans service association called today for an immediate investigation into a suicide epidemic among veterans and service members.
The national group cited a spate of suicides occurring at Veterans Affairs medical centers in Florida, Texas and Georgia, and requested inspectors general from various federal agencies to investigate the crisis.
“We can no longer view these suicides in the abstract, from a statistical perspective, and merely lament its prevalence,” AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly said in a news release.
The organization referenced 19 suicides on VA campuses from October 2017 to November 2018, including the suicide of a Marine colonel who shot himself in December 2018 outside the Bay Pines Department of Veterans Affairs while dressed in his service uniform.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that the colonel left a suicide note that lambasted the VA for not helping him.
The AMVETS organization believes the suicides are intended to make a statement about negative experiences when trying to access mental health care, according to the news release.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Navy veteran, recently held a roundtable discussion with lawmakers and agency heads, including the Veterans’ Affairs department, about mental health and suicide prevention initiatives for schoolchildren, veterans and adults.
The discussion, which included First Lady Casey DeSantis, came after the first anniversary of the Parkland shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Overall, 17 students and staff died in the 2018 February tragedy.
A year later, two students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas recently died from apparent suicides, according to news accounts.