Veterans tell Illinois suicide task force that they've struggled for years to find help | St. Louis Public Radio

Veterans tell Illinois suicide task force that they've struggled for years to find help

May 16, 2016

Several Vietnam veterans told an Illinois task force on Monday that the Veterans Administration should be doing a better job of treating depression and post-traumatic stress.

The Illinois Task Force on Veterans’ Suicides is holding hearings throughout the state to investigate ways to prevent suicide among Illinois veterans. Nationally, 22 veterans kill themselves every day.

About a dozen people attended the hearing at Southwestern Illinois College. The task force was formed by the state legislature and is chaired by state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, and state Sen. Tom Cullerton, D- Villa Park.

The Illinois Task Force on Veterans' Suicides held a hearing Monday at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville.
Credit Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

The Vietnam veterans testified that their struggles have been going on for decades. They criticized the VA for ineffective mental health counseling and for over-prescribing medications.  

State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D- Swansea, said the testimony illustrated the need for providing quality mental health care to help veterans end the cycle of depression.

“The importance of providing these services and providing a mechanism that they can get through the red tape of bureaucracy to avoid the type of depression that many people talked about is vitally important,’’ he said.

The metro-east has one of the largest populations of veterans in the state, including many who served at Scott Air Force Base.