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Rep. Kiggans vows to fight for military funding, will sponsor bill to prevent future military suicides

After seven instances of Navy sailors apparently taking their own lives in 2022, Kiggans says, "There's a lot of room for improvement."

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Seven of the past eight representatives for Virginia's 2nd Congressional District served on the House Armed Services Committee.

This week, the newly sworn-in Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia, 2nd District) became the eighth occupant of the seat in the past 55 years to be assigned to that critical panel.

Among the key priorities for the local member is to be vigilant about how and where defense dollars are spent.

The Navy spent  $15.8 billion in Hampton Roads during the 2020 fiscal year, according to the 2022 annual Economic Impact Report from Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.

"It just speaks to the importance of the military to this district and not just our active duty service men and women but their families, and so much of the civilian workforce that's involved with the defense industry," said Kiggins, in her first television interview since assuming office earlier this month.

She said that looking out for the troops, as well as the private industries which support the Department of Defense, such as Hampton Roads' shipbuilding and ship repair yards, will all be top-of-mind concerns for her.

"So, for whoever represents that 2nd Congressional District seat, which is a great honor to have been selected, that would be my priority this year and every year to be a voice for that group of people," she said.

Kiggans said she is very concerned about the two clusters of sailor suicides last year, which claimed seven lives.

"It is a priority of mine," she said. "Watch. We are now formulating our first piece of legislation that I will produce. And we're talking to not only those commands and a lot of the mental health providers to have come in, but the family members of those deceased sailors. We're having those conversations so we can put some policy forward that will improve their access to care, ensure that they get the initial treatment and follow-up care. There's a lot of room for improvement."

Kiggans is not Hampton Roads' only member on House Armed Services.

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Virginia, 1st District) is in line to be vice chairman of the overall panel and chairman of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee.

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