Congressman Tony Gonzales (TX-23) on Wednesday held a bipartisan press conference in honor of the 14 fallen U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents and officers who have committed suicide this year. The conference focused on the importance of increasing funding and access to mental health resources at CBP.
“These agents, three of which are right here are public information, but 11 of them are not. Part of today is to highlight that these [CBP agents] aren’t statistics. These aren’t numbers on a paper. These are real people impacted. Their families have been turned upside down. While in Washington there’s a lot that divides us in policy and often drives us in a lot of different directions, but there’s a lot of things that should unite us.
The fact that we have 14 agents that have committed suicide is a problem and I look at Congress as the body that needs to solve that problem and we need to do it in a manner that bring us all together. I’m proud of every one of these members of Congress that have come out today. I’m grateful for Brandon Judd, the President of the Border Patrol Union, to speak as well.
I spent 20 years in the military, and I spent five years in Iraq and Afghanistan. I saw during the height of Afghanistan in particular a lot of DOD Suicides. And one of the things that stopped that was putting an effort in Congress to actually came together. They passed some legislation that created a task force that included DOD and outside organizations to specifically address this. I put together a piece of legislation. It’s called the TAPS Act Taking Action to Prevent Suicide.
The goal is to bring this body together to solve real problems for real people in a manner that is productive… We’ve appropriated 23 million for Border Patrol mental health, but that’s not enough we have to take it a step further.
Uvalde is in my district. You have the shooting that happened about six months ago. One of the stories that didn’t really come out from that was there was a Border Patrol agent that was deployed to Uvalde from a different sector that responded to that crisis. He went into the room, and he had to see all those graphic scenes. He was surrounded by all this death, and he has had to deal with that every single day from that point on. This agent is still working, this agent is still doing his job. But these things that they are seeing what they’ve been exposed to 100% has an impact on you.
I go back to it, it reminds me of my time in the military, these warlike situations leave an everlasting impact on you and we’re about to go into Christmas. The holidays are usually when suicides spike, so we wanted to take a moment and come up with real solutions as both Democrats and Republicans.”
Watch the full press conference here.
ng funding and access to mental health resources at CBP.