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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

In the news: Veteran's Bill

President Bush signed the Joshua Omvig suicide prevention bill on Monday, providing improved screening and treatment for at-risk veterans. The law is named after a 22-year-old soldier from Grundy Center, Iowa, who died by suicide in December 2005 after he returned from Iraq.

The law requires mental health training for Veterans Affairs staff; a suicide prevention counselor at each VA medical facility; and mental-health screening and treatment for veterans who receive VA care. It also supports outreach and education for veterans and their families, peer support counseling and research into suicide prevention. The new law comes amid growing concerns over mental health issues borne by veterans who have seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VA Inspector General, in a report last May, said Veterans Health Administration officials estimate 1,000 suicides per year among veterans receiving care within VHA and as many as 5,000 per year among all living veterans.

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