Sen. Boozman urges passage of suicide prevention bill

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U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) recently urged the House of Representatives to pass legislation that would help prevent veteran suicides.

The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act would improve Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) policies to prevent suicides. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee approved the bill.

We’re “one step closer to paving a new path forward in suicide prevention and implementing a new strategy that I believe will give hope and purpose to the men and women who live with these invisible injuries,” Boozman said in a speech on the Senate floor after the chamber passed the bill.

Provisions from the IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act, which was introduced in 2019, were included in the bill. The act would create a VA grant program to share information with veteran-serving nonprofit organizations, and require it to monitor progress, so resources are concentrated on successful programs.

Approximately 20 veterans commit suicide daily, according to the VA, but only six of those 20 veterans received health care services at the VA.

Congress has tripled funding for the VA’s suicide prevention efforts over the past decade to $222 million. The suicide numbers have remained steady, even as funding for the VA increases.

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