U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly announced that his Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act has been implemented throughout the Armed Forces, including the Indiana National Guard. Monday, at the Indiana National Guard headquarters in Indianapolis, Donnelly and Adjutant General of Indiana, Major General Courtney Carr and Chief of Behavioral Sciences Officer of the Indiana National Guard, Major Scott Edwards discussed the impact of the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act, which seeks to prevent military suicide by requiring all servicemembers — Guard, Reserve, and Active Duty — to have an annual mental health assessment. The Sexton Act is named for Hoosier Jacob Sexton, a National Guardsman, who took his life in 2009.
Donnelly said, “The Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act has been implemented across our Armed Forces this year, including by the National Guard, and I am hopeful it will make a difference and help end the scourge of military suicide. Mental fitness, like physical fitness, is a critical component of military readiness. This law, for the first time, requires an annual mental health assessment for all servicemembers, including members of the Guard and Reserves. The goal is to better identify those struggling with mental health issues and ensure they receive the help they need before it’s too late.”
Major General Carr, Adjutant General of Indiana National Guard, said, “Senator Donnelly’s Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act has provided the Indiana National Guard a foundation to work from to identify Soldiers and Airmen who are in need of help and provide the resources as quickly as possible. Seeking help is a sign of strength, and we will continue to encourage help-seeking behavior while ensuring the resources are available so that our servicemembers can continue to serve proudly and be ready when needed.”
Major Edwards, Chief Behavioral Sciences Officer of the Indiana National Guard, said, “The Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act has increased access for servicemembers to mental health services. It is a smart move to leverage key opportunities to monitor the mental health status of our servicemembers. Every year we check servicemember’s health status with a physical exam and now behavioral health questions are a bigger part of that annual screening. We’re proud to say that the Indiana National Guard has fully implemented the Sexton Act. We’re thankful for the provisions of the Sexton Act and to Senator Donnelly for his unwavering support of the military. ”
One of Donnelly’s top priorities as U.S. Senator is to prevent military suicides and improve mental health care for servicemembers. Since joining the Senate in 2013, Joe has worked non-stop to find bipartisan solutions to combat military suicide and make sure we take better care of our servicemembers and their families. Through his role on the Senate Armed Services Committee, he has successfully advanced commonsense, bipartisan legislation. In his first four years in the Senate, Donnelly authored and successfully enacted four military mental health reform efforts. Donnelly will continue to work in a bipartisan way to improve the mental health of our servicemembers.
From Left to Right: Jeff Sexton, father of Jacob Sexton, Major Edwards, Senator Donnelly, Gregg Keesling, father of Chancellor Keesling, and Major General Carr, who discussed implementation of the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act at the Indiana National Guard.