VA Announces $10 Million Initiative to Combat Veteran Suicide

VeteranImage via U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) this week unveiled a $10 million funding initiative aimed at preventing Veteran suicides. This funding is available to eligible states, territories, and Tribal governments through cooperative agreements designed to bolster suicide prevention strategies.

Creating Local Suicide Mortality Review Committees

The cooperative agreements will finance and support the establishment of suicide mortality review committees. These committees will analyze and characterize suicide deaths, helping to develop a localized understanding of the issue. By identifying specific populations and regions at risk, these committees can inform more effective, data-driven suicide prevention strategies for Veterans.

VA Secretary Denis McDonough emphasized the urgent need for this initiative. “One Veteran suicide is one too many, and we will stop at nothing to end Veteran suicide. Launching this first-of-its-kind initiative will allow us to better understand suicide deaths and, as a result, deliver better interventions to prevent Veteran suicide,” McDonough said.

Aligning with National Strategies

This funding opportunity supports the VA’s National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide and aligns with the Biden-Harris administration’s comprehensive approach to reducing military and Veteran suicides. It also contributes to President Biden’s Unity Agenda, which aims to address critical issues facing the nation, including mental health and suicide prevention.

The initiative is part of the broader Governor’s Challenge, a partnership between the VA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This challenge engages 55 states and territories to develop statewide best practices for suicide prevention among service members, Veterans, and their families.

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Tackling Veteran Suicide

Veteran suicide remains a pressing issue. According to the VA, approximately 17 Veterans die by suicide each day. This funding aims to provide crucial resources to understand and mitigate this crisis better. Localized review committees can offer detailed insights into the unique challenges faced by Veterans in different areas, leading to more tailored and effective interventions.

The initiative also underscores the importance of collaboration among federal, state, and local entities in addressing complex public health challenges. By pooling resources and expertise, the VA hopes to create a robust network of support that can significantly impact Veteran mental health services nationwide.

Application Details

The funding is for a one-year period, with awards expected to be made by September 30, 2024. Eligible applicants must submit their applications by July 24, 2024, at 4:59 p.m. This tight deadline reflects the urgent need to begin implementing these vital suicide prevention efforts.

The VA’s $10 million initiative represents a significant step forward in the fight against Veteran suicide. By establishing suicide mortality review committees and enhancing data-driven prevention strategies, this effort aims to save lives and provide Veterans with the support they need. This initiative not only addresses the immediate crisis but also sets the stage for long-term improvements in Veteran mental health care.

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