Tester Statement on Biden Administration’s New Strategy for Reducing Military and Veteran Suicide

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester issued the following statement today after the Biden Administration unveiled a new plan aimed at ending veteran and military suicide nationwide:

“I’m pleased to see the Biden Administration taking steps to ramp-up suicide prevention efforts among our nation’s veterans. The reality is far too many of our servicemembers return home suffering from invisible wounds of war, and we need an aggressive, all-hands-on-deck approach to connect more veterans with the mental health resources and social supports they need. I remain committed to ensuring the swift and steady implementation of my bipartisan Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, and will continue working with the Administration to increase outreach efforts and expand resources that’ll bring us one step closer to ending the veteran suicide epidemic.”

The Administration’s new suicide prevention strategy outlined five top priorities, including improving lethal means safety, enhancing crisis care and facilitate care transitions, increasing access to and delivery of effective care, addressing upstream risk and protective factors, and increasing research coordination, data sharing, and evaluation efforts.

A longtime advocate of strengthening the mental health resources and services available to veterans, Tester is pushing to improve the Veterans Crisis Line’s staff training, management, and response to high-risk veteran callers at risk of suicide through his bipartisan, bicameral Revising and Expediting Actions for the Crisis Hotline (REACH) for Veterans Act.

Building on the success of his Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act and Care and Readiness Enhancement (CARE) for Reservists Act, the Senator also recently championed his Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act of 2021. This law establishes three new VA Rural Access Network for Growth Enhancement (RANGE) program centers to provide community-based care and services for rural veterans diagnosed with serious mental health issues, and support additional research on rural veterans’ mental health care needs and treatment options.

Veterans experiencing a mental health emergency can call the VA crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1) or text 838255, visit local Vet centers, or access any of VA’s mental health services online at www.MentalHealth.va.gov