Bill looking to put money in local communities to fight veteran suicide

Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – Over the past ten years, Congress has tripled the Department of Veterans Affairs’ funding for suicide prevention efforts.

But one bill could put more of a focus on funding in local communities.

“We have 17 American veterans a day who commit suicide. That is a national tragedy,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said.

Warner says more must be done to prevent veteran suicide. He’s introduced a bill to help combat this crisis.

“It would put money into the community to make sure veterans know where to turn on suicide assistance and prevention groups,” Warner said.

He says the Improve Well-being for Veterans Act would provide money for local and state-level services through non-profit organizations.

“Anything we can do to lower that number of suicides today is a step in the right direction,” Warner said.

A 2019 study by the Department of Veterans Affairs says more than 6,000 veterans have died by suicide since 2008. That rate has been increasing since 2005.

“It takes people. It takes interaction. It takes engagement,” Veterans of Foreign Wars spokesperson Terrence Hayes said.

Hayes believes national support helps, but it’s really a problem that will be solved at the community level.

“Having those community members, those neighbors, all those people that they come in contact with to actually be a part of the solution, I think that’s a great start,” Hayes said.

Warner says he worked closely with Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) on this piece of legislation and is confident the bill will pass.

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