Veterans group says military suicide rate is ‘out of control’
By Brian Tumulty
Jan. 30, 2014
WASHINGTON — Suicide prevention is the No. 1 legislative priority this year for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, says Paul Rieckhoff, the group’s founder and CEO.
His New York-based organization, with 150,000 members, also supports the effort by Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York to have military prosecutors rather than commanders make decisions on whether to prosecute sexual assault cases in the armed forces.
Gillibrand expects a Senate vote on her proposal in the next couple of weeks.
As chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, Gillibrand also plans to convene a hearing this winter on the link between sexual assaults in the military and suicides.
Rieckhoff, 39, served in Iraq as an Army first lieutenant in 2003-2004. He also served at Ground Zero after the 2001 terrorist attacks as a first responder for the Army National Guard.