In the News

Arkansas U.S. Sen. John Boozman pushed for a more holistic approach to addressing veteran suicide during a Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday.

“I believe that the issue is more complex than just viewing it from a clinical perspective,” the Republican senator told Dr. Matthew Miller, director of the Suicide Prevention Program in the VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

“There are other root causes of suicide we need to be looking at, such as food insecurity, lack of housing and financial strain,” Boozman said.

Boozman and committee chair Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana introduced legislation in March that would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand its data collection to examine the relationship between VA benefits and suicide outcomes. The Not Just a Number Act would also require the VA to analyze which benefits have the greatest impact on preventing suicide.

Miller agreed that understanding correlations between veteran suicide and VA services is important and that the legislation will bolster cooperation and collaboration among various VA divisions and other federal agencies.

Boozman said his number one priority remains veteran suicide prevention. He and Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner sponsored legislation in 2020 that expanded veterans’ access to mental health services through grants to nonprofits and other community networks that serve military veterans.

Read the full story in the Arkansas Advocate.