Save Missing Veterans With A 'Green Alert' System

7,351 signatures toward our 30,000 Goal

24.50% Complete

Sponsor: The Veterans Site

Veterans can go missing for days or weeks before a search begins. That needs to change now!


Sign this petition and tell the Department of Justice that you want the Green Alert system to become a national program now!

On average, there are 90,000 missing persons in the United States at any given time. More than half of those missing persons are adults [1].

The Emergency Alert System and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issue Amber Alerts for missing children and Silver Alerts for senior citizens, all sent directly to media outlets and countless cell phones in the area. According to the Department of Justice, around 900 children have been saved thanks to Amber Alerts since the national program was instituted in 2006 [3].

Yet there is a segment of the population that is still being overlooked: veterans with mental health issues. Nothing is in place for at-risk veterans who go missing each year. Unfortunately, many veterans are independent adults who do not meet criteria for emergency searches when they go missing, even though many have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or another traumatic brain injury.

This leaves them without assistance in a time of crisis when they need help the most. More must be done to protect vulnerable veterans, as they are a demographic that has a critically high suicide rate. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the risk of suicide for veterans is 22 percent higher when compared to civilian adults [4]. About 20 veterans a day commit suicide [5].

Fortunately, Wisconsin is leading the way by creating a new alert system for missing veterans called "Green Alerts." Similar to Amber Alerts for missing children or Silver Alerts for missing seniors, a Green Alert would be issued statewide whenever a vulnerable veteran goes missing.

Wisconsin's proposed "Green Alert" system is inspired by Air Force veteran Corey Adams who, while receiving treatment for PTSD, went missing in March 2017. Because he did not fit emergency criteria, police did not start searching for Adams for more than a week. Tragically, he was found dead 18 days after initially being reported missing by his family [2].

While this proposed Green Alert system is a step in the right direction, it needs to happen on a larger scale. Our country's veterans need this to become a national program.

By implementing a national Green Alert system for veterans with PTSD or other health issues, we can help save countless lives of men and women who have served our country.

The federal government needs to follow Wisconsin's lead and institute a national Green Alert system so that emergency searches can begin immediately after a veteran goes missing. Sign the petition and tell the Department of Justice that you want the Green Alert system for missing veterans put in place immediately!

MORE ABOUT THIS ISSUE

1. Kepple, K., Epstein, M., & Grisham, L. (2014, September 25). By the numbers: Missing persons in the USA. Retrieved February 22, 2018, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/09/23/missing-persons-children-numbers/16110709/

2. Absher, J. (2018, February 02). Wisconsin Proposes Green Alert System for Missing Veterans. Retrieved February 22, 2018, from https://www.military.com/benefits/veterans-health-care/mental-health-and-wellness/wisconsin-proposes-green-alert-system-missing-veterans.html

3. U.S. Department of Justice. (n.d.). Amber Alert - America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. Retrieved February 22, 2018, from https://www.amberalert.gov/statistics.htm

4. Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. (2016, September 01). VA Releases Veteran Suicide Statistics by State. Retrieved February 22, 2018, from https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2951

5. III, L. S., & Kime, P. (2017, August 08). New VA study finds 20 veterans commit suicide each day. Retrieved February 23, 2018, from https://www.militarytimes.com/veterans/2016/07/07/new-va-study-finds-20-veterans-commit-suicide-each-day/

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The Petition:

To the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs,

While the Emergency Alert System and the NOAA alert the public of missing children and senior citizens through Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts, there is a segment of the population that's being completely overlooked: veterans with mental health issues.

Many veterans are independent adults who do not meet criteria for emergency searches when they go missing, even though many are at risk, and have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or another traumatic brain injury. Veterans are a vulnerable demographic with a critically high suicide rate. The Department of Veterans Affairs reports the risk of suicide for veterans is 22 percent higher when compared to civilian adults, while about 20 veterans a day commit suicide. Yet critical time is wasted and lives are lost when veterans go missing because there is no alert system in place for when they disappear.

Fortunately, steps are being taken. Wisconsin is in the process of implementing its own statewide "Green Alert" system under the Corey Adams Searchlight Act. These Green Alerts would notify the public of vulnerable veterans who are missing, as well as allow law enforcement to begin emergency searches for those individuals as soon as they are reported missing.

The system is inspired by Air Force veteran Corey Adams who, while receiving treatment for PTSD, went missing in March 2017. Because he did not fit emergency criteria, police did not start searching for Adams for more than a week. He was found dead 18 days after being reported missing by his family. Similar tragedies occur every year throughout the U.S., which desperately needs to change.

The proposed system is a step in the right direction, but it is needed on a much larger scale. A Green Alert system for missing veterans — mirroring that of Amber Alerts for missing children or Silver Alerts for missing senior citizens — must be implemented at the national level to prevent other tragedies from occurring.

We must get our veterans the help they need when they need it most. I implore you to pass legislation immediately to create a national Green Alert emergency system for missing veterans. We can't sit back while another veteran's life is lost — this is a need that cannot wait.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: