Saperstein: “After serving our country in such a difficult and stressful capacity, our veterans deserve the type of accessible and effective mental health care that this bill strives to provide.”
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Washington DC, November 7, 2007 – In response to the enactment of the Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We welcome President Bush’s signing of the Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, which establishes a comprehensive program including mental-health training for government officials who work with veterans, outreach to and education for veterans and their families, research on best practices, and counseling for veterans. As we prepare to honor Veteran’s Day next week, we can celebrate America’s renewed commitment to providing veterans with the mental health care that they deserve.
This important legislation is an acknowledgement of the potential effects of combat on a soldier’s mental health and the importance of remembering that not all wounds are visible. We applaud Congress and the Administration for taking action to limit the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and reduce the high risk of severe depression and suicide among veterans. After serving our country in such a difficult and stressful capacity, our veterans deserve the type of accessible and effective mental health care that this bill strives to provide.
The traditional Jewish prayer for the sick asks for a refuah sheleimah—a complete recovery—for those who are ill including a healing of both the soul and of the body. Our tradition recognizes the distinction between physical and mental illness, yet views them both as equally important to a person’s overall health and well-being. With the enactment of the Veteran Suicide Prevention Act, America will be better-able to support our soldiers as we make their mental health our national priority.