Sen. Kelsey files first legislation of new General Assembly to help missing veterans at risk

(NASHVILLE) – The first piece of legislation for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly was filed today by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown)Senate Bill 1 seeks to establish a statewide “Green Alert” system that would provide rapid dissemination of information to help quickly identify and locate a missing veteran or active member of the Armed Forces, National Guard, or military reserves who is at risk.

“There is an urgent 24-hour time period to locate missing persons, and this legislation seeks to avoid any tragedies by bringing communities together to help missing veterans at risk quickly find safety. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature, law enforcement, and veterans this session to pass this legislation,” said Senator Kelsey.

The Green Alert would work like other public notification systems such as an Amber Alert or Blue Alert. Under the legislation, a state-wide notification would be issued if a veteran is at risk or missing due to a physical or mental health condition related to his or her service.

Kelsey said the idea for this legislation was brought to him by Brian Walker, a veteran in his district who served during Operation Enduring Freedom and currently serves as the Judge Advocate for the Department of Tennessee Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).  Wisconsin passed a similar law earlier this year thanks to Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Jason Johns, the Junior Vice Commander for the Department of Wisconsin VFW. The law was inspired by the death of a U.S. Air Force Reserve Sergeant who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder.  It took eight days before the required criteria could be met to list him as a critical missing person.  His body was found 18 days later. The legislation is nationally supported by the VFW.

“In the field when a soldier goes missing, a search and rescue team will be sent to find to find the missing soldier. It should be our duty to assist with the search and rescue when an at-risk veteran goes missing,” said Mr. Walker. “It is the least we can do to care for the veterans who have sacrificed so much to defend our country.”

 

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