September 23, 2021

Takano, Porter, & Slotkin Introduce VA Governors Challenge Expansion Act

Legislation will help tribes & states reduce veteran suicide

Press Contact

Jenni Geurink (Takano)| 202.819.4684

Lindsay Reilly (Porter)| 202.999.0266

Austin Cook (Slotkin)| 717.917.9315

Washington, DC. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), and fellow Committee Member, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) announced the introduction of H.R. 5317, the VA Governors Challenge Expansion Act of 2021 to help reduce veteran suicide. At yesterday’s full Committee hearing examining VA’s suicide research and prevention efforts, Chairman Takano spoke about the need for this legislation that will build on the incredibly successful VA and SAMHSA Governors Challenge Program, which helps states develop veteran suicide prevention proposals tailored to the specific needs of veterans in their states. 

This legislation will expand VA’s authority, so it can treat Native American tribes as equal to states for the purposes of the program, and allow VA to spend existing funds on implementation of veteran suicide prevention programs developed by states and tribes. This will help move state and tribe-level efforts forward faster, allow sovereign nations the same respect as states, and ensure Native Americans, who have disproportionately high rates of service in the U.S. military and suicide, can benefit from these programs. See full bill text here and mental health resources are available for veterans here.

“Veteran suicide prevention has long been a top priority of mine, and given the COVID-19 pandemic and the withdrawal from Afghanistan, it is critical that we continue to support VA’s efforts to reduce suicide,” said Chairman Takano. “I introduced the VA Governors Challenge Expansion Act with Congresswomen Porter and Slotkin to expand VA and SAMHSA’s Governors Challenge program to better meet the needs of all our nation’s veterans. We know that Native American veterans serve at disproportionally high rates and are at increased risk of suicide—that’s why our bill directs VA to treat tribes as equal to states for the purposes of this program. It also gives VA new authority to use existing funds to help states and tribes not just develop, but implement, promising veteran suicide proposals tailored to the needs of veterans in their communities. I’m grateful to my colleagues for joining me in this effort, and I’ll be including it in our upcoming mental health legislative package, so we can continue our efforts to meaningfully reduce veteran suicide.” 


“It’s not enough to say we’re grateful for our veterans; we must match our words with action,” Rep. Porter said. “We lose roughly 17 veterans each day to suicide. This is a crisis for our military families, and it needs to be treated as such. The VA Governors Challenge Expansion Act would provide Veterans Affairs with the resources it needs to expand this forward-thinking program and get our service members, veterans, and military families the mental health care they need.”


“As an Army spouse, I’ve seen firsthand how difficult the transition back to civilian life can be,” said Rep. Slotkin.“When our service members come home, we owe them all the support they need to lead healthy and successful lives, including the mental health resources provided through the VA’s Governor’s Challenge. Expanding this program will help save lives, and I’m eager to get this bill passed because I know how big of an impact it will have.”


If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at