“In talking to Jacob Sexton’s parents, his dad told me, ‘After the [funeral] services, so many of his friends who had served with him said they knew Jacob wasn’t himself the last few months,’" Donnelly explained. “One of the most important things we can do is have the commanding officer in charge, if they see something, that they immediately let us know and that it be, in no way, shape or form, a mark on the young man or woman’s career.”
Donnelly’s suicide bill would establish a pilot program aimed to integrate mental health components into a service member’s annual health assessment. “This bill seeks to better identify service members struggling with mental health issues and to ensure they receive the assistance they need before resorting to this tragic act,” said Donnelly, who cited the innovative Indiana National Guard's J9 program, which incorporates a detailed mental health review of a soldier's fitness.
Asked where he thought these two issues might evolve in five years, Donnelly said: “This is an all-in effort. This needs to end immediately. I hope it’s not five years, I hope it’s next month, next week or tomorrow.”
Brian Howey publishes at www.howeypolitics.com. Find him on Twitter @hwypol.