Rep. Marshall shares veteran news
Earlier this month, I was honored to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Robert J. Dole Veterans Medical Center’s new $4.4 million Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Facility in Wichita.
Some 30 years ago, I wandered the halls of that very VA center as a medical student. It was there that I learned to perform EKGs, draw venous blood, tie surgeon’s knots, assist in surgery and run code blues. Now, as a Member of Congress, I am determined to work with our Kansas delegation, the President, and the VA to reduce the number of veteran deaths by overdose and suicide by using prevention strategies based on the best evidence available.
This brand-new state of the art medical center honors the 220,000 veterans across Kansas, and the 20 million veterans across the United States. We dedicate it to veterans who have contemplated, attempted, or committed suicide, veterans struggling with addiction, and those in recovery. And finally, we dedicate this facility to our veteran caregivers who work tirelessly to prevent veteran suicide and drug abuse.
Suicide is indeed a public health crisis. It is also preventable. The highest priority of the VA at this time is to address this urgent issue, and Congress stands ready to continue to assist them. Thanks to research done by the VA, we now recognize the most common risk factors for suicide: a prior suicide attempt, mental health conditions such as PTSD and addiction, stressful life events (such as divorce, job loss or death of a loved one), and easy access to lethal weapons and medications.
The VA has also discovered a list of protective factors that, when these signs are recognized, can help turn around a serious situation. These include a reason for living and a sense of purpose, positive coping skills, a genuine feeling of connection to others, being part of a team, and access to mental health care.
While the Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Facility at the Robert J. Dole Veterans Medical Center is doing so much of the work, they cannot do it alone. We should all give our veterans a word of gratitude, encouragement, and hope. This hope starts with gainful employment for our veterans, which brings a sense of community, purpose and positive contribution. Just as they were in our military, it’s important that our veterans know they’re useful and a contributing part of a team.
And the opportunity for this state-of-the-art facility, and the hope this innovative center will bring to so many veterans and their loved ones. This is a new day, a day for hope, and a day that we can each reach out to help all of our veterans.