LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – An Arkansas senator is pressing for increased effort in addressing veteran suicide and has introduced legislation to support the effort.
Sen. John Boozman spoke to Department of Veterans Affairs officials in a hearing Wednesday for that organization to develop a more complete picture of veteran suicide factors through increased data-gathering.
“I believe that the issue is more complex than just viewing it from a clinical perspective,” Boozman said. “There are other root causes of suicide we need to be looking at such as food insecurity, lack of housing and financial strain.”
Boozman introduced the bipartisan Not Just a Number Act in March to increase the data gathering of veterans’ suicide factors. He was joined by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) in introducing the legislation.
The act would allow the VA to conduct additional veteran suicide outreach.
In testimony before the committee, Dr. Matthew Miller, Director of the Suicide Prevention Program in the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, agreed on the importance of understanding correlations between Veterans Benefit Association programs and clinical care that prevent veterans from taking their lives.
In the VA’s most recent statistics, in 2020 U.S. veterans had a suicide rate of 31.7 per 100,000.