WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jeff Van Drew (R-02) has introduced three pieces of legislation to bring awareness to veteran suicide and to ease the burden of costs for veterans’ organizations. The bills are the Andrew Thomas McCaffrey Green Star Veterans Service Act, Green Star Families Act and Veterans’ Telecommunications Protection Act.

“Andrew Thomas McCaffrey was a brave and fearless man who served his country in Afghanistan,” Van Drew said in a statment. “Far too often, our veterans do not receive the care they need when they return from service, and tragically lose their lives to suicide.”

He said the Andrew Thomas McCaffrey Green Stars Veterans Service Act is a tribute to veterans like Andrew McCaffrey and provides a symbol of recognition and support for family members affected by veteran suicide.

“Each year, we lose thousands of veterans to suicidewe must allocate necessary funding and resources to fight for our veterans when they leave service, just as they have fought for all of us.”

The package of bills recognizes dedicated and selfless veterans across America and will bring awareness to the terrible tragedy of suicide.

“In Congress, we must invest in our veterans’ mental health and provide support to those who have lost their loved ones,” he added.

“Recognizing the existence of a problem is the first step towards finding a solution,”said Matt Cahill, founder of Green Star Families of America. “By acknowledging the importance of the Green Star Service Flag, we take the first official step towards addressing the issue of veteran suicide.”

The act introduced in memory of Andrew Thomas McCaffrey directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to designate a Green Star Flag for next of kin of veterans who die by suicide. Read the text of the bill here.

Green Star Families Act establishes a counseling program through the Veterans Affairs Department for families and caregivers of veterans deceased as the result of suicide, at no cost to them. Read the text of the bill here.

Veterans’ Telecommunications Protection Act requires providers of cable services and telephone services to charge veterans’ organizations residential rates for such services. Read the text of the bill here.

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.