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Auditor General Jack Wagner Spoke About Rising Suicide Rate in Military at DAV Convention Today
More soldiers now dying of suicide than of combat-related injuries
PITTSBURGH, June 14, 2012 – Auditor General Jack Wagner highlighted the rising suicide rate among active military personnel when he addressed the Pennsylvania Disabled American Veterans’ annual convention at 1:30 p.m. today at the Doubletree by Hilton in Green Tree.
Wagner noted that, so far this year, there have been 154 suicides among active-duty soldiers, compared with 124 combat deaths.
Wagner, a Vietnam War veteran who has made veterans-related issues a focus of his three decades of public service, said that multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan have exacted a high physical and psychological toll on the United States’ men and women in uniform. He called on veterans to join together to fight federal government attempts to reduce spending on veterans’ medical needs as part of any deficit-reduction plan.
The U.S. government predicts that healthcare costs for veterans will increase from the current $29 billion to $59 billion a year in 25 years.
“We must make sure that the federal government does not reduce its financial commitment and moral obligation to take care of the men and women who have put their lives on the line around the world to protect our freedoms,” Wagner said.
As a state senator representing Pittsburgh and its western suburbs, Wagner fought to maintain the 911th Air Lift Wing and the Charles E. Kelly Support Facility in Western Pennsylvania. As auditor general, Wagner issued a special performance audit that highlighted failures to give veterans’ a preference in state hiring, and he successfully fought for the appointment of a military veteran to the state Civil Service Commission.
Wagner, who received a Purple Heart for wounds received in military combat, is active in many military organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, and the Vietnam Veterans Institute. He received the Veteran of the Year award from the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program and the Outstanding Legislator Award from the Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Wagner sponsors the annual Sharing & Caring golf tournament, to be held on July 16 at Edgewood Country Club which benefits disabled veterans, and also is involved with the World War II Veterans of Allegheny County Memorial Fund. For more details on this year’s tournament and how to participate please contact Sharing & Caring Inc. at (412) 372-6584.
Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the commonwealth’s elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts thousands of audits each year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department’s website at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
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