Brindisi questions Air Force brass on Lab, military mental health crisis

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Anthony J. Brindisi, D-22, Utica, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, questioned Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett and other top military officials during a committee hearing, according to an announcement by his office.

During the meeting, the Utica Democrat spoke about local priorities for the 22nd Congressional District, such as the mission at Rome Lab and ensuring National Guard and Reserve forces working on space-related missions, such as the 222nd Command and Control Squadron in Rome, are integrated with the military’s burgeoning Space Force.

Additionally, Brindisi raised concerns about the startling statistics on servicemember suicide.

“Rome Lab is home to world-class research that helps keep our country safe,” Brindisi said. “With China emerging as a threat to America’s military supremacy, now more than ever we need to be investing in research and development.”

Brindisi asked Barrett about the role quantum research will play in future defense efforts.

Last year, Brindisi sought to secure funding to establish a Quantum Information Science (QIS) Innovation Center at Rome Lab. Brindisi helped secured an $8 million investment for the QIS Innovation Center and an additional $5 million for quantum science research

“Our ability to compete against great powers, and especially against China with their use of technology and their trajectory in development will not be possible without using quantum capabilities, without A.I., and without the kind of leadership that the Rome Labs have demonstrated,” Barrett testified. “We will lean upon the product of those labs long into the future. They are quintessentially pivotal to our future.”

Additionally, Brindisi urged the Air Force to invest in research and development and partner with private companies to ensure American supremacy.

Also, Brindisi voiced concerns about the growing mental health crisis in America’s Air Force.

“Last year, 137 airmen—active, Guard, and Reserve—died by suicide,” Brindisi said. “Last year, the Air Force’s number of suicides was the highest level in three decades.”

Brindisi urged the Air Force brass to do more to address the growing problem.

“Suicide is killing more airmen than any adversary on the planet,” said Air Force David L. Goldfein. “And we are attacking it aggressively.” 

General Goldfein outlined a two-pronged approach to tackling servicemember suicide and pledged to do more to help bring down the number of suicides.

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