Washington D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs for a press conference on steps Congress is taking to prevent veteran suicide. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good afternoon, everyone. It is an honor to be here with our distinguished Chairman Mark Takano, Ranking Member Roe. Thank you both for the relentless drumbeat of actions on behalf of our veterans and leading up until now, and certainly today.
Our Congress and our country are grateful for your laser focus and that of the full Committee in convening the first hearing on the scourge – bipartisan, we want to act as much as possible in the most bipartisan way possible for our veterans.
We stand here today building on our tradition in a bipartisan way – Former Ranking Member Walz’s bill, the Clay Hunt Suicide Awareness Act, which had strong bipartisan support and was signed by President Obama in 2015.
We’re here with Members from both sides of the aisle, from every corner from our country, because this crisis isn’t about politics or partisanship, it is about patriotism.
Seven veterans taking their lives at VA facilities – seven veterans took their lives at VA facilities this year, three of those in five days, including one today. One today.
20 veterans, servicemembers, reservists and National Guardsmen succumbing to their invisible wounds every day.
A veteran suicide rate that is one and a half times higher than the civilian rate.
This is an unconscionable, urgent crisis requiring immediate action.
This crisis is more than statistics, it is about stories: the stories about the invisible wounds of war.
This heartbreaking crisis has touched countless communities: Atlanta, Austin, Nashville, Yountville, California and beyond.
One is too many. One is too many. That is what our former Ranking Member Tim Walz, now Governor of Minnesota, had always said. That is our creed. That is our call.
Tonight’s hearing will be the first of many actions taken by the House. Our work is not done. The House will continue to come together, again, putting aside politics and partisanship to ensure that both the VA and the Department of Defense have the resources they need. We will ask tough questions and ensure robust oversight of both agencies. We will continue to listen to our Veteran Services Organizations who represent the voices of our veterans. We will continue to listen to the loved ones left behind and community leaders.
Just as the military leaves no one on the battlefield, we pledge to leave no veteran behind when they come home.
Thank you to each and every one of the Members here for their leadership but we are all grateful to our VIPs, our special guests, who are today to testify to the need that we have, the challenges we face and the opportunities that are there for us. Again, not just addressing the statistics but the personal stories attached.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you, Mr. Roe, both of you for your leadership. I yield back.