December 20, 2018
Today, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) demanded answers from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on why nearly $5 million budgeted for suicide prevention outreach was left unspent in Fiscal Year 2018, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.
“The VA left millions of dollars on the table for suicide prevention outreach when 20 veterans die by suicide every day. How many lives might have been saved had they done what they were supposed to do with this money Congress provided?
“President Trump has touted his administration’s commitment to reducing veteran suicide. He must hold his administration accountable for this callous dismissal of their sacred duty to care for our veterans.
“As a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I call on the president and his administration to answer for the irresponsible findings detailed in this report,” said Rep. Peters.
Rep. Peters called for more outreach and resources to prevent veteran suicide in a Veterans’ Affairs Committee meeting earlier this year, given the connection between veterans experiencing homelessness and suicide. Rep. Peters voted to provide the VA $206 million for suicide prevention outreach in Fiscal Year 2019.
The VA recently started a suicide prevention program for veterans who have less-than-honorable discharges. However, a report from KPBS earlier this fall found the program had low enrollment nationally. Some San Diego veteran service organizations blame the program’s lack of exposure and promotion as a reason for low participation.