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IN THE NEWS: South Bend Tribune lauds Joe for “[honoring] this nation’s commitment” to those who serve our country

INDIANAPOLIS - The South Bend Tribune offered hearty praise for Joe Donnelly’s work taking care of the mental health of our nation’s veterans and service members in an editorial this morning.

Citing the need to combat the scourge of veteran suicide in our country, the Tribune singled out not just one but several bills that Joe wrote to address this issue that are among the 28 of his proposals that have been enacted into law.

The list of Joe’s bills the editorial highlights includes:

The Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act, legislation Joe wrote and got signed into law in 2014 that guarantees that every member of the armed services—active, reserve, or National Guard—receives annual mental health assessments;

Legislation from Joe’s ‘servicemember and veteran mental health care package,’ including his Military and Veteran Mental Health Care Provider Assessment Act and his Community Provider Readiness Recognition Act, which were both signed into law in 2015;

And one of Joe’s newest bills, which would address suicide both among service members and the general population by creating a study for the feasibility of a three-digit national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline phone number, which passed the Senate this month.

From the South Bend TribuneOur Opinion: Serving vets when they come home

It was just a few days ago when the community honored all those who have served in the military by celebrating Veterans Day.

Now as memories of that day fade, it’s fitting that another issue facing veterans — past and present — isn’t forgotten.

Every day in this country 20 veterans commit suicide, according to new data from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s a startling statistic, but one that Congress has taken steps to try and address.

The Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Act passed in 2014 offers mental health services for all active duty, reserve and National Guard service members.

Now Congress is considering S. 1015, sponsored by Utah Republican Orrin Hatch and co-sponsored by Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, that seeks to address suicide in this country generally and among service members in particular.

The bill would require the Federal Communications Commission to study the feasibility of designating a three-digit dialing code for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system, as well as studying the effectiveness of the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), including how well it addresses the needs of veterans.

Congress has already passed laws requiring the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs medical providers to receive regular training in suicide risk recognition and management, as well as developing a designation for private-sector and community providers that demonstrate “strong knowledge” of the medical needs of troops and veterans.

Making it easier for service members to get help in times of crisis is another step that Congress can take to honor this nation’s commitment to care for those who have fought for our freedoms.