WASHINGTON– Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie expressed his support for legislation authored by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) that would create a VA grant program to leverage veteran-serving non-profits and other community networks in order to reduce veteran suicides.
“What you have is the key, I think, to unlock part of this crisis,” Wilkie said on Wednesday during the Senate VA Committee’s hearing on veteran suicide prevention.
Boozman’s IMPROVE Wellbeing for Veterans Act would allow the VA to tap into current community programs and provide a framework for better coordinating those community efforts and measuring the results. The legislation creates a new grant program at the VA to expand the reach of services aimed at preventing veteran suicides.
“I welcome Secretary Wilkie’s support of this legislation. The VA has a real opportunity to work with its partners to develop a tool that can be used to measure not just what services were made available to a veteran, but the effectiveness of the programs. I’m hopeful this approach will reduce veteran suicide rates,” Boozman said.
Boozman is also leading efforts to ensure the VA corrects its suicide prevention outreach failures identified by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) as an original cosponsor of the Reach Every Veteran in Crisis Act.