Sitting around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida the other day, someone said “it’s not enough” in reply to a proposal that was on the agenda for our local City Council and that got me thinking about how often that one phrase comes up in just about every part of decision making. By the way, that person that brought this up actually had a proposal in his pocket that would have helped the issue being talked about!

Some critics say “it’s not enough” and generally the one’s saying that are those that have not done much in the beginning and done very little to offer alternatives. The reason I bring this up is a recent headline in “Stars and Stripes” which read “Trump unveils ‘bold’ plan to prevent veteran suicide, but critics say it’s not enough.”

I looked into the plan and determined that he at least has a proposal that will start the process and put in place 10 recommendations that will help move forward over the next two years some strategies that will help prevent some of the suicides that we are seeing today. President Trump signed an executive order on March 5, 2020 creating a Cabinet level task force called PREVENTS (President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide). I can criticize our government for not doing enough in the past that got us to where we are with the number of suicides we have today, or I can criticize it’s not enough, or I can say: This is a great proposal because I think it is and we will have about $53.4 million in the VA’s budget request for fiscal 2021 to get this program in place. What approach do you think might be more productive?

Yes, I have been critical in the past and will be in the future and most times it is taking to task a procedure or structure that has or is destructive to the health or well-being of our military and their families. Not necessarily a proposal that actually helps in some way. If I have a problem with this, I would bring to the attention to those that matter an idea that might help but I would never just say, it’s not enough.

I did notice that Montana Sen. Jon Tester, one of the ranking members, wanted more policy changes and others said that there was not enough input from veterans service organizations, etc. I just hope that critics don’t stop what is in place but add to the proposal and push it forward. Because it doesn’t have ALL the bells and whistles doesn’t mean it is bad in its present form. I also think that compromise is important rather than standing on the line of partisanship and the killing of this particular idea in its present form. Take a look on the web: PREVENTS: The President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide, and see for yourself. This document might open your eyes as to how you might help our local veterans that might have these thoughts. You also will have a roadmap that would work for the general population.

As an example, the roadmap contains a nationwide plan to raise awareness about mental health with the goal of educating Americans that suicide is preventable. Another part of the plan is to take the approach that would concentrate on an individual’s specific risk factors and NOT on the all too often approach of one-size-fits-all. Also, the building of partnerships across our country with organizations including but not limited to universities, non-profits, small and large businesses, faith-based groups as well as state and local governments. It will be implementing a plan to improve coordination among grant programs and work on filling the gaps that exist today in funding streams. Of course, there is so much more in the proposal that would be a valuable asset to the health and well-being of those in need.

Considering that for each life lost to suicide directly affects up to about 135 other individuals makes it vital that we address it on a grand scale, and that is the approach this proposal takes. This is a critical public health issue for our Veterans and our general population at large.

This mission is big, complex and bold but I think achievable.

“Suicide doesn’t end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better.” Unknown.

Ronald Verini is a local veterans advocate who writes a weekly column for The Argus Observer. He can be contacted at (541) 889-1978, or 180 W. Idaho Ave., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of The Argus Observer.

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