Chairman Moran, Ranking Member Tester Statements on President Trump’s Initiative to Combat Veteran Suicide

WASHINGTON – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-Mont.) today released statements on the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) Task Force report.

“Our nation’s heroes deserve the best care our country can offer, and I applaud the work of the president’s PREVENTS Task Force to address the tragedy of veteran suicide,” said Chairman Moran. “The PREVENTS 2020 priorities and the ten recommendations put forth closely align with the key tenets of my suicide prevention legislation S.785, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act. From creating policies to accelerate scientific discovery on comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention research, to building a framework for community integration and collaboration, I look forward to working with the president to achieve our shared goal of combatting veteran suicide.”

“In the year since the PREVENTS Task Force was established, an estimated 6,000 veterans will have died by suicide,” said Ranking Member Tester. “So while this roadmap is a necessary step forward in creating the cultural changes we need to see across America, there is far more that needs to be done on the federal, state, local, and Tribal level. That’s why I’m going to continue to push my bipartisan Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act in Congress, to give more veterans access to the resources they need to improve their mental wellbeing. I won’t stop fighting for this bill, and for critical policy changes needed to make a real difference in the lives of our nation’s veterans.”

Chairman Moran and Ranking Member Tester introduced the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act to help reduce veteran suicide and improve veterans’ access to mental health care. This was one of the first pieces of legislation passed out of SVAC in January under Chairman Moran’s leadership.

On March 5, 2019, the president signed an executive order to create a federally coordinated national public health strategy to address veteran suicide. The PREVENTS strategy includes 10 recommendations to help prevent veteran suicide.

PREVENTS Recommendations:

  1. Create and implement a national public health campaign focused on suicide prevention for Veterans and all Americans.
  2. Identify and prioritize suicide surveillance and research that focuses on a Veteran’s unique combination of individual, relationship, community, and societal factors to deliver the most effective intervention(s) tailored to meet their needs and circumstances.
  3.  Promote foundational changes to the way research is conducted — including improving the speed and accuracy with which research is translated into practice, improving efficiency through data sharing and data curation practices, and using innovative funding techniques to drive team science and reproducibility.
  4. Develop effective partnerships across government agencies and nongovernment entities and organizations to increase capacity and impact of programs and research to empower Veterans and prevent suicide.
  5. Encourage employers and academic institutions to provide and integrate comprehensive mental health and wellness practices and policies into their culture and systems.
  6. Provide and promote comprehensive suicide prevention trainings across professions.
  7. Identify, evaluate, and promote community-based models that are effectively implementing evidence-informed mental health and suicide prevention programs across the country. In doing so, they should leverage relationships with community-based efforts, non-profit organizations, faith-based communities, VSOs, and MSOs focused on saving the lives of Veterans.
  8. Increase implementation of programs focused on lethal means safety (e.g., voluntary reduction of access to lethal means by individuals in crisis, free/inexpensive and easy/safe storage options). 
  9. Develop a coordinated, interagency Federal funding mechanism to support, provide resources for, and facilitate the implementation of successful evidence-informed mental health and suicide prevention programs focused on Veterans and their communities at the State and local levels.
  10. Streamline access to innovative suicide prevention programs and interventions by expanding the network of qualified healthcare providers.

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