WASHINGTON, April 6, 2014 — In light of the recent tragedy at Fort Hood in Texas, Derrick Grayson, candidate for the open U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, is renewing his ongoing concern for America’s veterans and military serving both stateside and abroad.
“We need to honor our promises to our service members,” read a press release from Grayson’s office on Friday. “No service member should come home damaged and fight for treatment, sometimes for years.”
Grayson expressed his concern for the number of recent suicides at Ft. Hood: 22 in 2010, 10 in 2011 and 19 in 2012, claiming that the high rates are completely unacceptable. Indeed, a recent study showed that the Army suicide rate surpassed the civilian rate in 2008 and continues to climb. The suicide rate among soldiers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq more than doubled between 2004 and 2009 and nearly tripled among service members who were never deployed.
Ft. Hood houses over 40,000 troops, many of whom spent the last months of 2011 in Iraq. When those thousands of service members returned and the base’s population swelled, so too did the suicide rate of Ft. Hood soldiers. Of the total suicides at the base in 2012, 85 percent had previously deployed.
On Wednesday, 34-year-old Spc. Ivan Lopez went on a shooting rampage at the Killeen post that left three people dead and 16 others injured before taking his own life. Wednesday’s shooting rattled the military community in which a separate spree took 13 lives and injured over 30 others in 2009.
Grayson suggested that reform of the Department of Veterans Affairs — especially the way it handles the medical records of military members — could offer a solution to the problems that cause shootings such as this one. “I was at a Veterans Rally recently. Their biggest complaint was it could take years to get the care they needed,” he said. “VA records need to be computerized. Make [information] inter-departmentally available electronically. Hire civilian doctors to evaluate the urgency of care, thus removing the adversarial review board that routinely denies care after service benefits. Give veterans priority in transitional services.”
“If you believe, like me, that we should keep our promises to those that fight and sacrifice for our freedom then I ask you to give me your support. I will fight for our veterans, I will never give up on this fight.”