Jack Downing Responds to Secretary Shinseki Regarding Veteran Suicide
“The model that the veteran needs to find the VA rather than the VA needs to find veterans is at the center of what is wrong with the VA today,” Soldier On President and CEO Jack Downing said today.
His statement comes in response to a remark by U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki that two out of three veterans who commit suicide are not enrolled in VA care, and thus “we don’t get a shot at helping them.”
“It is impossible to change the outcomes if we aren’t engaging the individuals upon their return from service,” Downing said. “It can’t be the responsibility of the person in need to find us. We must reach out and touch the people in need. The problem is not about money, it’s about reallocating the assets that we already have to help our veterans. The VA needs more passion, will and concern for the individual veterans. We cannot continue letting young people die and say ‘too bad they didn’t come for help.’ It is our duty to seek out the men and women who were willing to die for us.”