While there is still much work to do to eliminate veteran suicide, progress is being made. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) publishes an annual National Veteran Suicide Prevention report that provides data about veterans who die by suicide.
This report reveals that veteran suicide deaths decreased for the first time since 2006. Specifically, suicide deaths were reduced by 9.7% from 2018 to 2020. There is hope in this statistic, and that provides us with even greater motivation to continue this progress and eliminate instances of veteran suicide. The VA has taken the lead by investing in a multitude of innovative approaches to address veteran suicide. Here are some roles the VA is currently playing in veteran suicide prevention:
1.Putting preventive legislation into practice.
There have been a growing number of bills that have focused on veteran suicide prevention. One of the roles the VA plays is to put the provisions of veteran suicide prevention legislation into practice. This role can be observed in the provisions of recently passed legislation such as the:
- Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019 — This legislation was passed in 2020. Its goal is to help improve veterans’ access to integrated health services that can help prevent veteran suicides. It includes a provision for a VA study into complementary and alternative treatments. The bill also creates a grant program that allows the VA to disburse grants that allow veterans to obtain easier access to suicide prevention services.
- Veterans COMPACT Act of 2020 — This legislation was passed in 2020, and it also focuses heavily on preventing veteran suicides. One of its provisions states that the “VA must furnish or pay for emergent suicide care, including transportation costs, at a VA or non-VA facility for certain veterans.” Another key provision of this bill states that the “VA must establish a four-year education program for the education and training of caregivers and family members of veterans with mental health disorders.”
2. Providing veterans with easier access to mental health care.
The VA is also committed to providing a range of helpful tools that veterans can use to address their mental health concerns. One option for veterans considering suicide is the Veterans Crisis Line. This tool allows struggling veterans to receive instant, confidential help 24/7. The VA also offers a range of apps that make it easier for veterans to access mental health and other healthcare services.
3. Helping veterans find exceptional ongoing mental health care.
Beyond helping veterans get past a mental health crisis, the VA also plays a major role in ongoing veteran mental health care. One way they are fulfilling this role is through their Reach Out campaign. This campaign is designed to help increase veterans’ awareness of all the mental health resources the VA offers. The VA can also offer referrals to providers in a veteran’s community that can help meet their ongoing needs. In fact, the VA “coordinated more than 6.2 million referrals to community providers” in 2020.
Valor Healthcare is ready to help veterans get the suicide prevention help they need
Valor Healthcare partners with public and private medical clinics to bring high-quality healthcare to American veterans. This includes behavioral health services offered at our community-based outpatient clinics. These services are designed to help veterans overcome a range of mental health challenges, including thought of suicide.
Partner with us to give your veteran patients access to patient-centered, data-driven, 21st-century care.