ICYMI: Senator Crapo addresses the need to lower suicide rates of Idaho state veterans

July 18, 2016

By Kaila Lafferty

The state of the VA and the lives of veterans in Idaho and across the nation, many will agree, needs to improve. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo spoke about the changes he hopes to make for veterans in the State of Idaho.

The National Alliance to End Veteran Suicide says that 22 veterans commit suicide a day in the U.S. It’s a problem even seen here in the LC Valley.

“I’ve got three guys right that are on my 24-hour 7 days’ list that are on my suicide watch right now,” said Vietnam Veteran, Larry Kinney. “It’s just sad and I don’t know what to do.”

Larry (Doc) Kinney is a Vietnam Veteran who lives in Lewiston. He devotes his time to helping other veterans. He’s seen three veterans in the LC Valley commit suicide in the past three years.

“I understand and that’s the sick part of it,” said Kinney.

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo says there are three things that need to be done to help improve the suicide issue. The first is to create a healthy discussion about it and educate people. The second, is to help our veterans who are reaching out, instead of getting penalized.

“When a veteran seeks help they are evaluated by the VA, with regard to whether or not they can keep their second amendment right to bare arms,” said Senator Crapo. “And then the third thing we need to do is improve the system so it delivers that help.”

The convention created an open and honest atmosphere for veterans to speak their minds. And elected leaders like Senator Crapo, listened.

Health care for veterans and bringing a National Veteran Cemetery to the state of Idaho were also talked about.

This is the 98th annual Idaho American Legion Convention, drawing veterans from all over the state.