Too many veterans are not receiving the care they need, and an alarming number are turning to suicide, according to Veterans Affairs officials who spoke this week with Kelly Tshibaka, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee in Alaska. Tshibaka toured the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Anchorage and pledged to work to improve care for veterans when she is elected to the Senate.
Tshibaka today issued the following statement:
“Veterans make up almost 14 percent of our adult population in Alaska, and we’re clearly not doing enough to look out for their well-being, in both physical and mental health. These brave men and women were heroes for us, and we’ve got to be heroes for them.
“Because of Alaska’s size, weather, and transportation challenges, many veterans must be airlifted to a medical facility to receive treatment, but most are not eligible for a transportation benefit, which is not technically considered part of their healthcare. That means they must personally bear the cost of an air ambulance, which can run into tens of thousands of dollars. Lisa Murkowski has been in the Senate for nearly 20 years but has failed to address this illogical barrier to veterans’ healthcare. When I’m a senator, we will make sure our veterans are not prevented from receiving the support they deserve because they can’t afford a ride to the hospital.
“We are also facing a silent epidemic of suicides, both among our veterans and our active-duty service members. Many veterans sustained wounds during their service that are not visible, but can be fatal just the same. We must get them integrated into mental health treatment programs, encourage engagement in peer support groups, and find other avenues to prevent suicide. Our veterans were willing to lay down their lives to protect us; it’s our duty to now do everything we can to protect them.
“My father is a Vietnam War veteran, and so it’s important to me that we keep our promises to the men and women who risked their lives to defend our country. In Alaska, we honor our veterans, and it’s time we did a better job of showing it.”