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Bill aims to create three-digit dialing code for veterans in crisis

Telephone (Dave Dugdale/Flickr)

Recently introduced legislation, the Suicide Prevention by Eliminating Excessive Digits Act of 2019 (SPEED Act), would require the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to designate a three-digit dialing code for veterans in crisis.

Like 911, the number would be a three-digit dialing code for the current Veterans Crisis Line number (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1), to create an easier, more accessible way for veterans to receive help.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that more than 20 veterans and military members die by suicide every day across the United States and suicide rates are nearly two times higher for Veterans than for nonveteran adults, the release said.

As a 24/7 operation, the Veterans Crisis Line, which was created in 2007, has answered over 3.5 million calls.

“In the past 20 years, suicide deaths have increased by 37 percent in West Virginia, which is unacceptable,” said U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., one of the sponsors of the bill. “Suicide is preventable. That’s why I’m introducing the SPEED Act, which help our veterans receive the help and support they need quickly.

“With a three-digit dialing code, we can lower that terrible statistic in West Virginia and across the nation and help our veterans in need. As a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, I will continue to fight for our veterans whenever possible.”

This bill is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.


© 2019 The Register-Herald (Beckley, W.Va.)

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