Senate committee to study veteran homelessness/suicide
More than 20 veterans commit suicide every day in
the United States and an estimated 60,000 are homeless. Sen. Frank
Simpson and Rep. Tommy Hardin will be holding a joint interim
study beginning next week to develop a better understanding of
the two issues and figure out a solution to better assist Oklahoma
Simpson, a retired Navy veteran, said the statistics are disturbing
and Oklahoma’s veterans deserve better.
“It’s appalling that these brave men and women dedicate
their lives to their country only to return from war and have
no support system. These individuals are suffering from emotional,
mental and physical disabilities that, in many cases, are causing
them to become dependent on drugs and alcohol, tearing their marriages
apart and preventing them from being able to keep a job,”
said Simpson, R-Ardmore. “We must find a solution to get
our veterans the help they need.”
Statistics show that while veterans constitute only eleven percent
of the adult population nationwide, they represent 40 percent
of the male homeless population. The percentage of homeless veterans
has decreased over the past decade but the numbers remain high.
Simpson and Hardin fear that with so many serving in Iraq and
Afghanistan, the problem of veteran homelessness may get worse.
Suicide is another issue that is more prevalent among veterans
than the civilian population. Approximately, ten percent of Oklahoma
adults are veterans but they make up over 25 percent of the state’s
While the federal Veterans Administration (VA) points out that
the veteran suicide rate is declining there are still an estimated
22 veterans nationwide who commit suicide each day.
“Without support veterans and members of the military are
left to battle their fears alone. Sometimes those struggles can
turn into family problems, reckless behavior, or lead veterans
to hurt themselves,” said Hardin, R-Madill. “In Oklahoma,
we care about each other and sometimes even our heroes need our
The study is scheduled for Tuesday, October 14, 2014, at 9:30
AM at the state Capitol in conference room 419C.
Several agencies and organizations who are working with Veterans
in Crisis to address the homelessness and suicide rates will be
sharing information with the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs
Committee about the services they provide as well as making suggestions
of how the state can provide more help.
“We must find a way to identify veterans in crisis and reach
out to them. As we sadly know, in too many cases, the federal
VA is not meeting the needs of our veterans,” said Simpson.
“We must find a way to help our Oklahoma veterans who fall
through the cracks before they also become victims of war. Our
heroes deserve better!"
Interim studies are public meetings so anyone is welcome to attend.
The meeting can also be viewed live on the Senate website (www.oksenate.gov)
by selecting “Live Committee Meetings” at the bottom
of the home page and then selecting the room number.
For more information, contact:
Sen. Simpson: (405) 521-5607