Goldsmith is on Capitol Hill this week trying to make sure other troops’ cries for help aren’t similarly ignored.“People know the statistics about military and veterans suicide,” the 28-year-old Iraq War veteran said. “But if I can put a face and a name to what has been going on, maybe it’ll make a difference.”
Goldsmith is one of 31 veterans in Washington, D.C., this week as part of the annual lobbying event by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. This year’s effort will focus on the estimated 22 veterans suicides that occur each day, a problem the group has labeled both disheartening and preventable.
IAVA leaders are pushing for a new executive order that would create a single government position to lead suicide prevention efforts and launch national research into the problem.
But Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for the group, said much of the work this week will be pushing Congress to clean up existing mental health programs and resources. “There is already a lot of effort out there, but we have no idea if it’s having much of an impact,” Tarantino said. “There are hundreds of Defense Department programs to prevent suicide, but we don’t have performance metrics on most of them. We need a better evaluation of what’s working and what isn’t.”