INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly has a goal. He wants to eliminate military suicides and a new law is meant to help accomplish that.
There were 443 military suicides last year. It was the third year in a row when more lives were lost to suicide than combat.
Chance Keesling took his own life while serving in the Army in Iraq in 2009. At the time, his father Gregg set out to improve conditions for others in the military.
“Hopefully this country will learn a lot of how to reach out to soldiers in trouble,” he said at the time, “and that that’ll be his legacy.”
Monday when Sen. Donnelly (D-Indiana) called a new conference to spread the word about a new law, Gregg Keesling was there.
“This is the seventh Thanksgiving that we’ve been without our beloved son,” he said.
It’s the second time that Donnelly has won passage of a new law geared toward better treatment for members of the military and veterans.
“We’ve been able to get, first, mental health assessments for all,” he said. “Now, making care easier to find for all.”
It’s for the soldiers but it’s also for the families. Gregg Keesling says his goal now is to spread the word about better treatment options.
“So, that’s my thing,” he said. “I’m really calling out to every family. You see this. You know there’s trouble and don’t hesistate.”
Do it, he said, “in my son’s honor.”
The new law, known as the Care Package, calls for more training for local medical providers who treat veterans as well as more training for medical providers in the Department of Defense.
It also calls for training physician assistants to specialize in psychiatric care.