South Bend, Ind. — U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly today issued the following statement after Donald Trump suggested that servicemembers and veterans lost to suicide were not strong enough. Trump said during an event today, “When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat — and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it.”
Donnelly said, “The stigma surrounding mental health issues is one of our biggest challenges in bringing down suicide rates among servicemembers and veterans. We need to dismiss the idea that mental health issues signify weakness, and reinforce that there is strength in seeking help, particularly among those who are battling the invisible wounds of war.”
Since joining the Senate in 2013, Donnelly has worked to find bipartisan solutions to combat military and veteran suicide and had several provisions signed into law to strengthen mental health care for servicemembers, veterans, and their families. Last year, provisions from his “Care Package,” were signed into law to help expand access to quality mental health care for servicemembers and veterans through the Department of Defense (DoD), as well as local community providers. This followed his bipartisan legislation the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act becoming law in 2014, which requires an annual mental health assessment for all servicemembers.
Donnelly spoke on the Senate floor in September to call for more action to prevent military and veteran suicide.