Walz Puts Spotlight on Military Issues, Veteran Suicide

Created: September 18, 2019 09:44 PM

Governor Tim Walz is putting a spotlight on military and veterans issues ahead of the deployment of 700 Minnesota National Guard troops later this week.

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On Wednesday, Walz toured mental health and suicide prevention programs offered by Veterans Affairs (VA) in Minneapolis.

"There's numerous things that can put people into crisis," Walz said at a news conference at the VA. "It can be because they're not receiving a check they've been promised on time and it's putting them in a situation where they might lose their home. That's a crisis situation. It could be access to medication. It could be a pain situation."

Veterans Crisis Line

Across the country, the statistics are grim: Up to 20 military veterans die by suicide every day. Walz wants to expand efforts to coordinate state and federal VA mental health resources, exemplified by the state having an office inside the VA building.

"Having the State of Minnesota's office inside this facility to make sure that we are not missing anyone is something we're going to build on," he said.

The VA has 400 mental health counselors across the state, including at the VA in Minneapolis and 13 clinics.

"This effort to expand beyond our medical center and 13 clinics is really gonna be jettisoned forward by this relationship with the state of Minnesota," said Pat Kelly, director of the Minneapolis VA Heath Care System.

According to the most recent year figures are available, 95 military veterans committed suicide in 2016.

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