Note: Sen. Ron Wyden is also a co-sponsor of S. 2182. In fact, Wyden signed on April 10, almost three weeks before Merkley got on board.
The suicide rate among veterans in Oregon is troubling. A quarter of suicides in the state involve veterans.
Now, Senator Jeff Merkley is working to get more help for veterans who may be at risk for suicide.
On Friday he announced he co-sponsored the Suicide Prevention for Veterans Act. It’s designed to provide more help for veterans as they return to civilian life.
Merkley made the announcement at Lines of Life.
“We would never leave our wounded troops behind on the battlefield. We can’t leave them behind at home,” he said.
Lines of Life operates the Military Helpline. It operates 24 hours a day to help veterans and their families who are in crisis.
Around 8,500 people have called the helpline in the last 12 months.
Veteran Marissa Rivera knows of the need first-hand. She spent five years in the Marine Corps and struggled when she left the military.
“You come out of the military and you don’t feel you have a place anymore. When you leave your friends you feel more isolated,” Rivera said.
Today, Rivera is working on a masters degree in social work. She hopes to help veterans.
“Veterans feel like a lot of people don’t understand them. To have someone counsel them who does understand makes it easier,” she said