Michigan makes $1.2M investment in veteran suicide prevention
LANSING, Mich. (WNEM) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a $1.2 million investment in veteran suicide prevention programs to help more than 500,000 military veterans and their families.
This is the largest investment in veteran suicide prevention outreach since at least the year 2000 and likely the largest in Michigan history, according to available data from Whitmer’s Office.
The investment was announced on Wednesday, Sept. 21 after a roundtable discussion with veterans, veteran advocates, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, and Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) Director Zaneta Adams.
“Veteran suicide remains a persistent problem in Michigan and nationwide, and we must use every resource and tool we have to protect the lives of our former service members,” Whitmer said. “Today’s investment will expand funding for suicide prevention efforts in Michigan and build on the ongoing efforts of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency to keep veterans and their families safe and healthy. In the last bipartisan budget I signed, we made the largest investment in veteran suicide prevention in over 20 years because the brave men and women who fought for our country deserve our strong support in both our words and actions. I will work with anyone to ensure that they have high-quality mental and physical health care and economic and educational opportunities. Let’s keep delivering for our veterans and their families.”
According to the latest available data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 704 Michigan veterans died by suicide from 2016 to 2019, an average of 176 suicides annually over four years.
Some issues that can put a veteran in crisis includes housing and employment challenges, substance abuse, and a lack of mental health supports for combat PTSD.
With the MVAA’s new Michigan Veteran Connector initiative, it will connect with organizations and businesses across the state to reach more veterans.
By simply asking customers if they served in the military and, if so, referring them to the MVAA’s 1-800-MICH-VET hotline, these veteran connectors can help connect veterans to the resources they need.
“The funding will support the ongoing efforts of the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans and their Families,” Adams said. “Effective veteran suicide prevention strategy involves a holistic approach. We know that connection to health care and other resources reduces suicides for veterans, so when we help a veteran with housing needs or emergency grant assistance, we are part of the prevention. But we need help from everyone. From barbershops to banks to schools to hospitals to churches, we should all take part in preventing suicides among veterans and their families through the Michigan Veteran Connector initiative.”
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