The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released a report which showed an average of 20 veterans committed suicide everyday in 2014 across the nation. The numbers from the 2014 study is a slight decrease compared to a previous study in 2010.
In Washington, a veteran commits suicide nearly every two days and according to state VA statistics, 233 veterans committed suicide last year compared to 223 in 2014. An increase which State Director of Veteran Affairs, Alfie Alvarado says needs to be combated.
“The state needs to continue to make investments in mental health, to be able to make sure all our citizens, including veterans, have the opportunity to be able to get the health they need,” says Alvarado.
On top of what they have already done, she says the state needs to continue to give vulnerable veterans a purpose by increasing access to programs, like “Growing Veterans.”
For those in the Tri-Cities region, Jeff Dulin, the Chief of Behavioral Health at Jonathan Wainwright VA in Walla Walla says they have been at the forefront of offering services to veterans suffering from mental illnesses.
Dulin says the VA offers walk-in services, the Veterans Crisis Line and veterans are guaranteed an appointment within seven days for mental health services. He says there should be “no barriers,” when it comes to veterans receiving service.