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Press release content from PR Newswire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

Medal Of Honor Recipients Call On Congress To Enact ‘National Warrior Call Day’

November 17, 2021 GMT
Make a call, take a call – it could help save a life. (PRNewsfoto/Warrior Call)
Make a call, take a call – it could help save a life. (PRNewsfoto/Warrior Call)
Make a call, take a call – it could help save a life. (PRNewsfoto/Warrior Call)

RIVERDALE, Md., Nov. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Three Congressional Medal of Honor recipients are calling on Congress to enact National Warrior Call Day – a suicide prevention effort that aims to enlist millions of Americans to connect with service members and veterans, according to the Troops First Foundation.

“As former service members who have received the Medal of Honor, we are writing you on behalf of our fellow team members who may be dangerously disconnected and close to the brink of suicide. We are writing to ask you to support a national effort to connect with these brave Americans and steer them to resources,” they wrote.

The signatories are Leroy Petry, who received the Medal of Honor for his service in Afghanistan, James McCloughan, who received the Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam, and Harold Fritz, who received the Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam. All three are Army veterans.

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“We ask that members of the U.S. House of Representatives adopt this bipartisan resolution – which does not cost taxpayers one cent -- and for leaders in the U.S. Senate to follow suit with companion legislation,” they added.

House lawmakers have introduced a congressional resolution ( H. Res. 512 ) to declare Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, the first annual National Warrior Call Day. All seven former secretaries of the Department of Veterans Affairs support the effort.

In their letter to members of Congress, the American heroes stress the urgent need for Warrior Call.

“This effort comes at an important time: as the rapid unraveling of Afghanistan has spurred anguish and frustration among the 700,000 service members who served there. It also comes as the suicide rate for active-duty forces reached its highest level,” they wrote.

“With its simple mission of imploring all Americans to connect with someone who has worn or is currently wearing the uniform and let them know they care – National Warrior Call Day can foster greater connectivity. And greater connection can save lives.”

The text of their letter follows.

Nov. 17, 2021

Dear Member of Congress:

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As former service members who have received the Medal of Honor, we are writing you on behalf of our fellow team members who may be dangerously disconnected and close to the brink of suicide. We are writing to ask you to support a national effort to connect with these brave Americans and steer them to resources.

House lawmakers have introduced a congressional resolution ( H. Res. 512 ) to declare Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, the first annual “National Warrior Call Day.” We ask that members of the U.S. House of Representatives adopt this bipartisan resolution – which does not cost taxpayers one cent -- and for leaders in the U.S. Senate to follow suit with companion legislation.

We understand firsthand the challenges that servicemembers and veterans face and the need for their peers, friends and family to lift them up.

With its simple mission of imploring all Americans to connect with someone who has worn or is currently wearing the uniform and let them know they care – National Warrior Call Day can foster greater connectivity. And greater connection can save lives.

This effort comes at an important time: as the rapid unraveling of Afghanistan has spurred anguish and frustration among the 700,000 service members who served there. It also comes as the suicide rate for active-duty forces reached its highest level.

National Warrior Call Day is designed to address the pressing challenge of servicemember and veteran suicide. And those trends are alarming!

  • The suicide rate for active-duty troops rose to 28.7 per 100,000 in 2020, up from 26.3 the previous year, according to the Defense Department report, the highest rate since the Pentagon began keeping detailed records in 2008.
  • Veteran suicide has steadily increased since 2014 with more with 6,435 veterans taking their lives in 2018, though it declined modestly in 2019. More U.S. veterans have died by suicide in the last 10 years than service members who died from combat in Vietnam.
  • After adjusting for sex and age, the rate of veteran suicide is much higher than the rate among all United States adults.
  • A large segment of those who are disconnected and die by suicide may have undiagnosed brain injuries from their service that may present as mental illness but require an entirely different approach.

As the resolution notes, roughly two-thirds of veterans who take their own lives have had no contact with the Department of Veterans Affairs, highlighting the urgent need for greater connection. National Warrior Call Day can help connect vets into the VA system who might otherwise slip through the cracks.

The resolution does not cost taxpayers anything, but its value is priceless. Enactment will help connect service members and vets to support networks. In short, it will save lives.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Harold Fritz, James “Doc” McCloughan and Leroy Petry
Medal of Honor recipients

Founded in 2008, the Troops First Foundation implements initiatives that foster connectivity, build trust and address reintegration in post-9/11 warrior care. One of the foundation’s programs is Warrior Call.

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