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As Disturbing Images Surface from Russia’s War in Ukraine, Ernst Concerned for Veterans, Urges VA to Connect Veterans With Mental Health Services

The Iowa senator and longtime champion of veterans’ mental health is calling on the VA to connect veterans with mental health resources, including community-based support systems.

WASHINGTON—As disturbing images surface in the wake of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a combat veteran who served over 23 years in military uniform, is leading an effort in calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop a comprehensive outreach plan to connect veterans—including those experiencing post-traumatic stress—to VA mental health services.
In a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough, Ernst and her colleagues write : “Images depicted in the media have the potential to impact all veterans, but they may be particularly troubling for the estimated 11–20% of veterans who experience post-traumatic stress after serving in the Vietnam War, Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. It is imperative that the VA make every effort to reach these veterans and make certain they are aware of mental health services and supports as the war in Ukraine continues.”
Senator Ernst is joined on the letter by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Martin Heinrich (D-Md.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
Full text of the letter is available HERE.
Background :
Following President Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, Ernst—a veteran of the Global War on Terrorism— joined Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) in urging the VA to connect Afghanistan and Global War on Terrorism veterans with the mental health resources they need.
Last fall, after an alarming report revealed a 15% increase in military suicides in 2020 from the year before, Ernst joined Senator Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) in pushing the Pentagon to take immediate action to step up suicide prevention efforts with their bipartisan Save Our Servicemembers (S.O.S.) Act.