A coalition of military veterans is pushing the Biden administration and Congress to establish National Warrior Call Day to help raise awareness for the epidemic of suicide among America's warfighters.
The group wants Congress to pass a resolution under consideration that would designate the Sunday after Veterans Day as National Warrior Call Day. The campaign is spearheaded by the Troops First Foundation and Warrior Call, a network of active-duty service members and veterans that provides a lifeline to military members suffering from mental health issues.
National Warrior Call Day would help bolster awareness among Americans and push them to connect locally with veterans who may be struggling with mental health issues, according to the organizations leading the push.
"Commemoration of the date—which involves no cost to U.S. taxpayers—would elevate the pressing challenge of suicide in the military and among veterans," a coalition of veterans' groups and other activist organizations write in a letter sent Monday to Congress and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. "It would also help spur greater action by Americans to connect with those serving or who have served and maintain the kind of relationships that prevent isolation and corresponding negative behavior."
The resolution is circulating in the House, and a Senate version is slated to be filed this week. The effort is backed by every living former secretary of veterans affairs, but has stalled since Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) first introduced the House version of the measure in June 2021.
"National Warrior Call Day is a straightforward and important effort our nation needs," the veterans' groups write in their letter. "It involves no federal dollars. Please help by lending your name to the relevant resolution and doing what you can to encourage leadership to move a resolution through at least one chamber as quickly as possible."
The advocacy organizations say quick passage of the resolution would signal that Congress supports veterans' mental health and show the country's warfighters that they are not forgotten.
"While no magic bullet, tangible action by Congress lends credibility to the Warrior Call initiative and serves as a communication vehicle for what is ultimately a grassroots advocacy initiative," they write. "It is supplemental to other efforts in this area, but unique in its simplicity and preference for action."
The mental health crisis among veterans is growing, particularly in the wake of the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan. Around 11 to 20 percent of veterans experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of their service—far higher than the general population—and death by suicide is at an all-time high, according to statistics published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. At least 20 percent of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD or major depression, and a similar percentage suffer from traumatic brain injuries, according to the Lifeline for Vets. The Department of Veterans Affairs treats more than two million patients with mental health issues.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), who is backing the Senate resolution to establish National Warrior Call Day, told the Free Beacon that Americans have a duty to support veterans once they return from war.
"Support for our troops shouldn't end when they return home—but it doesn't take a new federal program," Cotton said. "Sometimes all you need is a call from a friend, family member, or battle buddy. Our resolution will remind Americans that they are the greatest support system for our vets, and that a simple call can make all the difference."