January 23, 2020

Chairman Takano Announces First 2020 Hearing to Address Veteran Suicide

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) announced the first full committee hearing this year to address veteran suicide. On Wednesday, January 29, the Committee will hold a full committee oversight hearing, entitled “Caring for Veterans in Crisis: Ensuring a Comprehensive Health System Approach,” to examine the extent to which Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has adopted a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention. This hearing will explore VHA policies and training related to identifying veterans at risk of suicide, how VHA coordinates veterans’ care, whether VA medical facilities offer a safe and therapeutic environment for at-risk veterans, and VA police’s role in identifying veterans in crisis on VA campuses.

 

“This problem is not new, but our solutions must be,” said Chairman Mark Takano. “This new year, I am committed to maintaining the spotlight on veteran suicide to ensure all of our nation’s veterans get the mental healthcare they need. Our full committee hearing is a crucial step towards a true cohesive and comprehensive approach to reducing veteran suicide by honing in on the ways VA can provide a safe, functional, and effective environment for veterans in crisis.” 

 

Background: After 3 suicides on VA campuses in just 5 days last April, Chairman Takano made suicide prevention the Committee’s number one legislative priority. In August, after a damning VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report detailing a veteran suicide within an inpatient unit of a VA hospital, Chairman Takano called for a VA-wide stand down to address this crisis and ensure all VA staff are fully trained; assess facility infrastructure; and identify gaps in policies, procedures and resources. Still, there is more work to be done.  According to VA’s most recent data (currently available through 2017), 17 veterans die by suicide every day. This is why the Committee is working to ensure VHA and all of VA are focused on developing a comprehensive approach to reducing veteran suicide. At next week’s hearing, the Committee expects an update on VA’s work to create protective environments for veterans in crisis, its progress toward implementing the VA OIG’s recommendations, the role VA police play in identifying veterans experiencing a mental health crisis on VA campuses, and the effectiveness of VA’s care coordination for veterans at risk of suicide.

Press Contact

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Jenni Geurink (202-225-9756)

Miguel Salazar