The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), along with the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), have announced a new program called the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans and their Families.
The VA and HHS used data analysis as well as their current suicide prevention initiatives to select 10 states to participate in the Governor’s Challenge. Of the 10 states invited, the following seven accepted: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Texas and Virginia.
State leaders from each of the seven states will meet to develop a plan to implement the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide. This allows the states to identify priorities, organize efforts and contribute to a national focus on veteran suicide prevention.
In March of 2018, the VA and SAMHSA began the Mayor’s Challenge; this challenge had a local community-level focus. The Governor’s Challenge will now incorporate existing community strategic plans within respective states and supporting the initiative with state-level influence and resources at the state level.
According to the VA, the “collaboration between the agencies is an example of VA Secretary Wilkie’s aim to partner with organizations who share the same goal of preventing suicide among the nation’s Veteran population.”
Together, the VA and HHS will leverage technical expertise from both agencies. This will ensure that the work is codified, evaluated for effectiveness and shared with municipalities to optimize the collective efforts of all partners invested in preventing suicide across the service members, veterans and their family’s demographic group.
“Preventing Veteran suicide is our number one clinical priority,” Robert Wilkie, VA Secretary, said in a statement. “This is a national problem that demands a nationwide response – the Mayor’s Challenge and the Governor’s Challenge provide a roadmap to develop that national focus of effort.”
The Department of Veteran Affairs. VA, Health and Human Services announce Governor's Challenge to Prevent Suicide [press release]. https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5179. Accessed January 17, 2019.
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