The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on Sept. 20 awarded $52.5 million in grants to 80 community-based organizations working to prevent veteran suicides.
The grants, part of the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program, were awarded to organizations in 43 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and American Samoa. They will help these organizations provide or coordinate the provision of suicide prevention services for eligible veterans and their families. For more information and the list of awardees, visit the SSG Fox SPGP website.
Reducing the rate of veterans who die by suicide is the focus of The American Legion’s highest priority, Be the One. The mission is aimed at reducing the perceived stigma associated with mental health treatment, raising awareness about the issue and empowering everyone to take the appropriate action when a veteran may be at risk.
Additionally, VA announced:
• Its new PSAs on suicide prevention: The PSA directs viewers to the website VA.gov/REACH where veterans and family members can navigate a range of resources available to help in a time of need. That’s why the new PSA asks the question: “When was the last time you asked for help?” Learn more here.
• New program yields results: More than 32,000 veterans in crisis have received free emergency health care under a new VA program. Since Jan. 17, veterans in acute suicidal crisis have been able to go to any VA or non-VA health-care facility for emergency health care at no cost – including inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days.
• 988 number hits milestone: Since the launch of “Dial 988 then press 1” as the shortened Veterans Crisis Line number in July 2022, the crisis line has fielded more than 1.1 million contacts. This includes over 953,000 calls, an increase of 12.1% from the same timeframe from the previous year, with an average speed to answer of 9.48 seconds. There was also a year-over-year increase in text messages (58.1%) and online chats received (10%).
“There is nothing more important to VA than preventing veteran suicide — nothing,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said. “One veteran suicide is one too many, and VA will continue to use every tool at our disposal to prevent these tragedies and save veterans’ lives.”