Alderman Balcer’s Resolution on Veteran Suicide

CITY HALL — A City Council committee will shine a spotlight on the issue of veterans committing suicide Wednesday.

Ald. James Balcer (11th), a Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Marines Corps, sponsored a resolution calling for a hearing on “the alarming rate of suicide amongst veterans,” and the Human Relations Committee will hold that hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Council Chamber.

“The numbers are staggering, and they’re alarming,” Balcer said Tuesday. “We’re trying to get the word out to people.”

According to the resolution, citing Veterans Health Administration figures, veterans accounted for 22 percent of all U.S. suicides from 1999 through 2010, and a 2012 study showed that 20 U.S. veterans committed suicide every day. Balcer said his own research estimated that 150,000 Vietnam vets had committed suicide.

He added, however, that post-traumatic stress disorder remains an enduring issue for all veterans, “even older veterans, World War II veterans.”

The list of those set to testify Wednesday, he said, is “quite extensive,” but he added that it’s not intended to produce a city ordinance on the issue, but just to draw attention to it and to the avenues for aid, such as a Veterans Administration crisis line at 800-273-8255.

Our biggest thing is getting the word out,” Balcer said.

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By Ted Cox on February 18, 2014