Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fort Collins vet raising mental health awareness in nation's capital



From:The Coloradoan

A Fort Collins veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is in the nation’s capital this week to raise awareness about veteran suicide and mental health.

Colorado State University student Jason Sydoriak joined the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, or IAVA, as part of a yearlong campaign called “We’ve Got Your Back: The Campaign to Combat Suicide.”

This week’s is part of IAVA’s “Storm the Hill” campaign, which lobbies Washington on veterans advocacy issues.

Past “Storm the Hill” campaigns have helped push the new GI Bill, secure more funding for veterans health care and help fix the federal Department of Veterans Affairs disability claims backlog.

Sydoriak, along with other veterans, plans to meet with members of Congress to address mental health issues. VA estimates 22 veterans commit suicide every day. In a 2014 IAVA survey, 47 percent of respondents said they knew an Afghanistan or Iraq War veteran who attempted suicide.

“Our vets and their families are at the forefront of these challenges and their stories need to be heard,” IAVA Chief Policy Officer Tom Tarantino said in a written statement. “We are grateful and excited to have Jason in Washington with us this year.”

Sydoriak served as a Marine for six years. He was deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. He is pursuing a double major in political science and economics at CSU.

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