WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today introduced two bills to help prevent veteran suicide. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 20 veterans commit suicide every day, and a veteran’s risk of suicide is 21 percent higher than an adult who has not served in the Armed Forces.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t talk to a veteran who is struggling with their self-worth since leaving the military. Throughout our lives, the most important commitments we make are spoken – whether it’s an oath upon joining the military, vows at a wedding or saying the pledge of allegiance,” Rep. Mast said. “Integrity is more than just a word to servicemembers, so I know if we say we’ll look out for each other and ourselves, then we’ll do it. These bills are about doing anything and everything we can to prevent even one more veteran from harming themselves.”

The first, the Oath of Exit Act, creates a voluntary separation oath for members of the Armed Forces aimed at reducing veteran suicide. Working with those who have experience the weight of PTSD firsthand, Rep. Mast wrote the Oath of Exit with the intent of fighting the ongoing veteran suicide epidemic. The bill is supported by the National Alliance To End Veteran Suicide.

The text of the Oath is below:

“I, __________, recognizing that my oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, has involved me and my fellow members in experiences that few persons, other than our peers, can understand, do solemnly swear (or affirm) to continue to be the keeper of my brothers- and sisters-in-arms and protector of the United States and the Constitution; to preserve the values I have learned; to maintain my body and my mind; to give help to, and seek help from, my fellow veterans; and to not bring harm to myself or others. I take this oath freely and without purpose of evasion, so help me God.”

Rep. Mast also introduced the STOP Veteran Suicide and Substance Abuse Act with Rep. Gilbert Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39). This legislation would require the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Defense to work together in establishing clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of PTSD and other traumatic disorders that are linked with substance abuse or chronic pain. The bill would also require the Departments to update the Clinical Practice Guidelines for Assessment and Management of Patients at Risk for Suicide with age and gender specific risk factors and treatment options.

The bills are attached.