Former VA secretaries propose National Warrior Call Day to raise military suicide awareness
The seven living former Veterans Affairs secretaries on Tuesday called for Congress to declare Nov. 21 as “National Warrior Call Day” to raise awareness for veteran and military suicide.
In a letter circulated to lawmakers, the former officials refer to the “Warrior Call” amendment — introduced in the House’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.) — which would make the day official.
“We understand firsthand the challenges active-duty service members and veterans face and the need for their peers, friends, and family to lift them up,” the former secretaries wrote.
The Pentagon last week revealed that suicides among U.S. service members rose 15 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year, with figures showing 580 service members died by suicide last year.
And a study released in June found that more than 30,000 active-duty personnel and veterans of wars that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have died by suicide.
Warrior Call seeks to address the problem by urging Americans to reach out to veterans and service members and “let them know they care” via a phone call.
“With its simple mission to implore Americans — but especially active-duty service members and veterans — to connect with someone who has worn or is currently wearing the uniform and let them know they care — Warrior Call can foster greater connectivity, compassion, and better outcomes,” according to the letter.
The former officials add that with the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the return of thousands of troops stateside, “such an awareness campaign is especially timely and a valuable non-government tool to put into action.”
The letter is signed by former VA Secretaries Anthony Principi, Jim Nicholson, James Peake, Eric Shinseki, Robert McDonald, David Shulkin and Robert Wilkie.