SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois veterans are facing high rates of suicide and depression and state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, recently proposed a statement of support to draw attention to this problem.
“The brave men and women who have served in our armed forces are returning home with wounds that are mental as well as physical,” said Halpin. “We are not doing our part as grateful citizens to support their transition into civilian life. Too many struggle with depression and even suicidal thoughts without essential services to help them through difficult times. In 2016, 162 former service members tragically took their own lives; we can and need to do better.”
In addition to Halpin’s prior support of veteran suicide prevention bills, Halpin put forward House Resolution 168 to call notice to the mental health crisis among veterans across the United States. Veterans make up a disproportionate number of suicides; recent studies show the suicide rate for veterans is 1.5 times higher than civilians. Halpin’s resolution recommends Illinois build a memorial in Oak Ridge Cemetery for veterans who have taken their own lives.
Mike Malmstrom, Commander of Amvets 145, Department Paymaster for the Illinois Marine Corp League and the President and Director of Bridging the Gap voiced backing for the resolution.
“I like the fact that the state is not forgetting those who lost their battle after they returned home,” Malmstrom said. “We need to do a better job of looking for the signs so we can be there when help is needed. We must never forget those who fell through the cracks; even though they made it home, the war cost them their lives.”