Crapo: It’s time to talk about suicide rates, care for veterans

Senator tells Legion the VA needs to have more respect for gun rights.

Veterans organizations need to start talking about suicide among former soldiers and what to do about it, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, told the 98th Annual American Legion Department of Idaho Convention on Friday at the Best Western Plus University Inn Convention Center in Moscow.

While veterans from all over the Gem State were happy to see each other for the annual event, there weren’t any smiles when it came to addressing issues with Veterans Affairs hospitals and veteran suicide.

Crapo said veteran suicide is happening in many Idaho communities and throughout the nation.

The senator introduced Larry “Doc” Kinney, a Lewiston chaplain.

Crapo said Kinney had told him at a town hall meeting that two of his fellow veterans had committed suicide.

“I’ve since learned that Mr. Kinney lost another veteran to a similar circumstance, and I can only imagine the depth of frustration and despair these families feel from these losses,” Crapo said.

Everyone in this room knows someone who’s lost a loved one, a veteran, to suicide,” Crapo said. “The newest data from the VA shows 20 veterans a day commit suicide.

Crapo said his recent online surveys lead him to believe three things have to happen: suicide needs to be discussed, veterans’ rights can’t be jeopardized by visiting the hospitals and the system, and the VA programs need to be improved so help is delivered.

Crapo said he urges communities to lend a hand to veterans and help those contemplating suicide seek medical help.