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Campos praised the VA for its commit- ment to enhancing mental and behavioral health programs and its efforts to work with DoD and other government and non- government agencies. In particular, the VA deserves high marks for its prevention campaign and crisis hotline and its work to remove the stigma felt by at-risk ser- vicemembers and veterans. But the VA concedes that continuing barriers and increasing needs for services still challenge its progress in combating the daunting suicide statistics. Noting that one veteran died by suicide


every 80 minutes and one servicemember every 36 hours during the period of 2005- 10, Campos said renewed efforts are re- quired to reverse this unacceptable trend. She recommended Congress:


• require the VA and DoD to establish a single strategy and a joint suicide- prevention office; • authorize funding to expand Veterans Health Administration mental health ca- pacity and capability to improve access and delivery of quality and timely care and information; and • provide funds to expand outreach and


marketing efforts to encourage enrollment of all eligible veterans in VA health care, with special emphasis on Guard and Re- serve members, rural veterans, and high- risk populations. Campos said one caregiver-spouse of a


recently retired veteran with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury told MOAA, “When my husband attempted suicide in March, the VA doctor told me to take him to the ER. But the ER had no beds and gave us no al- ternatives for care. I was scared, and no one in the VA did anything to help us or help me know what to do in a situation like this.” MOAA never wants to see another veteran or family member turned away from care or be left without resources to help during a crisis, Campos said.


Consider I


Cmdr. René Campos, USN-Ret., testi- fies at a suicide prevention hearing before the House Veterans’ Affairs health sub- committee in early December 2011.


PHOTO: STEVE BARRETT


Yourself Warned Get involved or lose.


n looking back on 2011, many are probably thinking we had a successful year and dodged some bad things that could have greatly affected the military community. A year ago, the president’s deficit com- mission proposed freezing military pay, whacking military retirement, dramati- cally raising health care costs for retired servicemembers of all ages, eliminating commissaries, and much, much more. After 12 months of hand-wringing over


how Congress might act on those pro- posals and what the grossly misnamed congressional “super committee” might suggest, it seems we’ve come to the end of the year with no such changes. But if that’s what you’re thinking, you


couldn’t be more wrong. The $460 billion defense budget cut en- acted in August 2011 is going to affect you


FEBRUARY 2012 MILITARY OFFICER 41


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