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A Bill to Subside Veteran Suicide Moves On

Santa Fe, NM, Veterans Memorial
S. Baxter Clinton
Santa Fe, NM, Veterans Memorial

A bill that could help provide mental support to veterans and lower suicide rates passed the house a representatives in a sweeping vote.

Bill Sponsor Representative Eliseo Lee Alcon a Vietnam Veteran and Bronze Star recipient presented the Service Members Suicide Prevention bill to the chamber.

“House Bill 298 pretty basically enacts Service Members and Veterans Suicide Prevention Act within the Veterans Service Department, it provides responsibilities to raise awareness regarding suicide within the population of service members and veterans in the state of New Mexico.”

Representative Harry Garcia said that New Mexico has one of the highest rates for suicide among veterans in the nation.

“Ladies and gentlemen of this body I just want to raise a concern, New Mexico is the second highest for veterans and its even higher for people that are in the military for suicides in New Mexico. Representative I'm glad you brought this piece of legislation up, it brings awareness to people what's going on in our communities, we shouldn't be second in suicides in the state of New Mexico.”

House Bill 298 contained a $100,000 dollar appropriation, Representative Alcon explained it was removed and Acting Chair Representative Dayan Hochman-Vigil responded.

“The House Appropriation and Finance took the appropriation part out, they figured they could do this bill without an appropriation therefore I am legal. With that madame chair I move that House Bill 298 due now pass this house.”

“You mean you didn't do anything illegal this time gentleman.” 
[This last interaction about being "legal" was in jest]

Shantar Baxter Clinton is the hourly News Reporter for KSFR. He’s earned an Associates of the Arts from Bard College at Simons Rock and a Bachelors in journalism with a minor in anthropology from the University of Maine.