Skip to Content

Press Releases

Health Chairwoman Miller-Meeks During First Hearing on VA Fox Grants: “These are not just numbers; these are veteran lives.”

Today, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, (R-Iowa), the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health, delivered the following remarks, as prepared, at the start of the Subcommittee’s oversight hearing to examine the success of the SSG Fox Grant Program in eliminating veteran suicide:


Good afternoon. This oversight hearing for the Subcommittee on Health will now come to order.


It is a sad reality that roughly 17 veterans, on average, are losing their lives to suicide every single day.  One death alone from suicide is one too many. But it is a continuing somber reality and the loss of just one veteran has a profound ripple effect on their fellow veterans, their families, and their communities.


Like most of my colleagues across this dais, one of my top priorities on this Committee is to decrease the number of veteran suicides. As we have examined this year through multiple hearings, there are many factors that come into play when a veteran loses hope. And as we have also examined, there should be no limits on what we examine as potential solutions. 


As a 24-year veteran, I have seen the unique challenges that many of my fellow servicemembers and veterans face, both in service and as they adjust to living back in their communities.


It is imperative that we continue to work on solutions such as the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program to give veterans and their family members the support that they so desperately need and deserve. And that this support is available where they live.


Over 60% of Veterans who died by suicide in 2021 were not seen in VHA in 2020 or 2021, and over 50% had received neither VHA nor VBA services. In order to reach all veterans, we must continue to expand our work in the community.


Fox Grants assist veterans and their families by providing veteran-based outreach, veteran suicide prevention services, connections to VA, and additional community resources with the focus on reducing the number of veteran suicides. Throughout this process, veterans are provided assistance on how to connect with VA clinical or non-clinical help, if eligible.


According to VA’s just released Annual Suicide Prevention report, through June 2023, grantee organizations reached more than 10,000 Veterans and families in need. Coordinated assessments by these organizations identified approximately 130 imminent-risk veterans, and resulted in 800 non-emergency referrals and approximately 1,800 social service referrals to address drivers of risk such as homelessness, employment, income supports, and legal services. These are not just numbers; these are veteran lives.


The Committee recently sent out a request for information to grantees of the program and received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. As we look to the future of this grant program, I am eager to better understand what can be done to address any process challenges and expand on any potential opportunities. 


I would like to thank VA for their commitment in providing aggressive technical assistance to the grantees through various forums and working groups. The program office responsible for implementing this pilot embraced this mission and we look forward to continued dialog with them as we move forward.  


Thank you all for being here and I look forward to hearing the perspectives from our witnesses on this important program, especially now as we continue to struggle with a stubborn suicide rate among veterans. 


With that, I yield to Ranking Member Brownley for her opening statement.

Back to top