Political Notebook

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Dad of military suicide victim to join Donnelly at address

The father of a Hoosier soldier who killed himself will attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address as the guest of Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.

Donnelly told The Star Press of Muncie that Jeff Sexton of Farmland, in Randolph County, will be in the U.S. House when Obama delivers his speech there Tuesday night.

Sexton’s wife, Barbara, will view the speech on a monitor in Donnelly’s offices. Donnelly is permitted only one guest in House chambers for the address.

The Sextons’ son, Indiana National Guard Spc. Jacob Sexton, fatally shot himself at a Muncie movie theater in 2009. Jacob Sexton, 21, was on a 15-day leave from serving in Afghanistan when he took his life.

The Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act was the first bill Donnelly introduced after he joined the Senate in 2013. It would establish a pilot program for military service branches and reserve components to incorporate mental health assessments into service members’ periodic health assessments, which are used to evaluate whether service members are fit to serve.

The bill was referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which Donnelly is a member.

The online edition of Stars and Stripes reports that leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America hope Obama will discuss military suicide prevention in his address.

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