Biden pledges more dollars to end veteran suicides, homelessness

President Joe Biden speaks about the PACT Act, which helps veterans get screened for exposure to toxins, at the Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center in New Castle, Del., Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Biden in his State of the Union address called for more resources to curtail veteran suicides as part of a wider plea to invest in federal aid services.

In Biden’s speech, his first before a divided Congress, the president also asked for more financial assistance for former service members to help keep a roof over their heads as well as job training and placement for veterans and their spouses as they return to civilian life.

“Let’s do more to keep this nation’s one fully sacred obligation: to equip those we send into harm’s way and care for them and their families when they come home,” Biden said.

The president said the country is losing 17 veterans a day “to the silent scourge of suicide.” 

The Department of Veterans Affairs “is doing everything it can, including expanding mental health screenings [and] proven programs that recruits veterans to help other veterans understand what they’re going through and get the help they need,” Biden said.

He also pledged to help veterans afford their rent “because no one should be homeless in America, especially someone who served the country.” 

Earlier on Tuesday, White House officials laid out the new veteran support efforts, with Deputy Assistant to the President for Health and Veterans Affairs Christen Linke Young telling reporters the administration will provide new resources to states and territories for programs aimed at tackling veteran suicide through mental health and emergency support services. 

Officials will also focus on supporting veterans “at challenging moments that can increase suicide risk by expanding medical-legal partnerships and expanding outreach to justice-involved veterans,” in addition to expanding peer support programs. 

In addition, Biden is pushing Congress with a fiscal 2024 budget that will propose a yet unnamed housing assistance initiative, Young said.

An estimated 33,000 U.S. veterans don’t have reliable housing. That number has sunk more than 11 percent from 2020 to the start of 2022, though administration officials have sought to bring that number to zero.

The new initiatives build on Biden’s push last year to create sweeping new benefits for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals from burn pits and other situations while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. That effort ultimately resulted in legislation passed last summer that opens such benefits for millions of veterans.

Tags Biden homelessness State of the Union veteran suicide Veterans Affairs

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