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Rubio, Ernst, Kelly Introduce legislation to prevent Military Suicides

Oct 22, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and colleagues in introducing the Save Our Servicemembers (S.O.S.) Act that would require the U.S. Department of Defense to take immediate action to step up suicide prevention efforts for uniformed service members. The legislation follows an alarming report which revealed a 15 percent increase in military suicides in 2020 from the year before.
“Our men and women in uniform dedicate their lives in service to our nation, and we should ensure that they have the best support available when they need it the most,” Rubio said. “I am proud to join Senators Ernst and Kelly in sounding the alarm on the rising number of military suicides. We can, and we must, do better for our service members.”
For a full list of cosponsors and quotes, click here
This past spring, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a nonpartisan watchdog agency, released the findings of a review of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) suicide prevention programs. The report identified three areas that DOD should address to improve suicide prevention efforts. The S.O.S. Act directs DOD to implement those GAO recommendations, which include:

  • Assessing DOD’s individual non-clinical prevention efforts to determine their effectiveness.
  • Improving DOD’s data collection by reducing duplication and developing consistent suicide-related definitions to be used department-wide. This is in response to concerns that inconsistent definitions could be impeding the ability to access and improve prevention programs.
  • Strengthening collaboration between Pentagon offices, specifically between the Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO) and the Psychological Health Center of Excellence on the production of the annual suicide reports, to minimize duplication of efforts.

The S.O.S. Act has the support of over 30 senators—Democrats and Republicans—and is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion.