September 01, 2019

Chairman Takano: VA Should Mark National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month with a Nation-Wide Stand-Down

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) released the following video statement to mark the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Awareness month and reiterate his call for a VA wide stand-down to address the crisis of veteran suicide.

VA stand down

Full text of the video statement below:

I am Congressman Mark Takano, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Today marks the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month-- and with 20 veterans, servicemembers, reservists, and members of the National Guard dying by suicide a day, it’s clear we have a national public health crisis on our hands.

In April, following 3 suicides on VA property in 5 days, I directed this Committee to work in a bipartisan manner to address the national crisis of veteran suicide and made it this Committee’s top priority.

We acted immediately and since then have held hearings, and passed 5 bills to address this crisis.

And yet, with each suicide, it becomes more clear our country is not doing enough. We need new solutions. That’s why I’ve called on VA to institute an immediate nation-wide stand-down to address this crisis.

Over the next 15 days, I’m asking VA to:

(1) Ensure all VA staff are fully trained

(2) Assess facility infrastructure

And

(3) Identify gaps in policies, procedures, and resources

We cannot keep delaying action. Americans must know that key policies are already in place, that VA will enforce them, and trust that senior VA leadership will be held accountable.

Until VA has a top suicide prevention official in place to implement these programs, veterans can’t have confidence in VA’s ability to care for them in a crisis. While Americans should take this month to have real conversations about suicide across this country, I’m asking VA to do more than talk. I’m asking them to back up their policies with clear, concise actions.

If you or a veteran you know is in crisis, you can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1(800) 273-8255 and press 1, or text 838-255.

We must do more to “be there” for our veterans in crisis.

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Press Contact

Jenni Geurink (202-225-9756)

Miguel R. Salazar