Tester Announces More Than $2 Million for Montana Organizations to End Veteran Suicide
First-of-its-kind program created by Chairman’s historic Hannon Act provides VA funding for local suicide prevention programs
Following his sustained efforts, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced $2.15 million in funding for Montana organizations to support efforts to end veteran suicide. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) awarded these funds under the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program, a first-of-its-kind program created under the Senator’s landmark Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act (Hannon Act) to provide federal funding for local suicide prevention programs.
“Mental health is one of the biggest issues facing our country, our state, and our veterans, and we’ve got to be doing everything we can to prevent folks from slipping through the cracks,” said Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “That’s why I’m proud to have championed these funds that will help organizations across the Treasure State connect more Montana veterans with the lifesaving tools and support they need closer to home.”
Tester secured funding for the following organizations providing veterans suicide prevention services across Montana:
- $750,000 for Volunteers of America Northern Rockies, a statewide organization
- $750,000 for Adaptive Performance Center in Billings and Helena
- $650,000 for the Great Plains Veterans Service Center on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation in Box Elder
Named for a Montana veteran who lost his life to suicide, Tester championed the Hannon Act in his capacity as the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to bolster VA’s mental health workforce and increase rural veterans’ access to care through alternative and local treatment options. Among its many provisions, the law established the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program, a three-year community-based grant program to deliver financial assistance to organizations that provide or coordinate suicide prevention services for at-risk veterans and their families.
As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester secured $52.5 million in funding for this veteran suicide prevention grant program, and organizations were able to apply for up to $750,000 in grants, which are renewable on an annual basis by application. Last year, he also secured $2.15 million in funding for these Montana organizations under this grant program.
Yesterday, the Chairman led a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing to evaluate mental health and suicide prevention measures for veterans. He is continuing his work to end veterans suicide by spearheading the bipartisan Not Just a Number Act to require VA to take a more comprehensive look at factors that best prevent veteran suicide, and the Making Community Care Work for Veterans Act to improve veterans’ access to lifesaving residential treatment programs for mental health and substance use disorder, especially in rural states like Montana.
Last year, Tester also championed the Support The Resilience of Our Nation’s Great (STRONG) Veterans Act tostrengthen veterans’ access to critical resources like the Veterans Crisis Line, expand veterans’ mental health care options, and support mental health research at VA.
“Volunteers of America Northern Rockies continues to be grateful for Senator Tester’s commitment to our nation’s Veterans, his leadership as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and his efforts to secure critical funding for the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant,” said Volunteers of America Northern Rockies Chief Executive Officer Jeff Holsinger. “The Senator’s hard work has and will continue to have a powerful impact to support suicide prevention among Veterans in Montana and throughout our great Nation.”
“In the past year, we have been honored to work with the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program to connect Native and rural Montana Veterans with the lifesaving mental health care and suicide prevention services they need,” said Great Plains Veterans Service Center Executive Director Chauncey Parker. “The Great Plains Veterans Services Center is grateful to Senator Tester for championing this suicide prevention grant program, and helping us secure this critically important funding for a second year in a row so we can continue a very necessary mission in preventing Veteran suicide for Native and rural Vets.”
“The Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program has been critical in our efforts over the last year to connect more veterans with the tools they need to treat their invisible wounds of war, and we are grateful to receive this funding again to support our efforts in the Billings and Helena area,” said Adaptive Performance Center Co-founders Karen Pearson and Mitch Crouse.