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Connolly, Mace Introduce Bipartisan Veteran Suicide Prevention Legislation

The Not Just a Number Act would require the VA to take a more comprehensive look at the factors that prevent veteran suicide

Today, Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Nancy Mace (R-SC), the Ranking Member and Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation, introduced the Not Just a Number Act, bipartisan legislation to require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to take a more comprehensive look at the factors that best prevent veteran suicide. 


“Veteran suicide is a complex problem that requires a holistic approach,” said Connolly. “But as it stands now, the VA is limited in the data it can use to study and ultimately prevent veteran suicide. This issue is too important for the VA to be operating with one hand tied behind its back. It’s time we make sure they have the information they need to protect our nation’s heroes once they’ve returned home.”


“Our veterans deserve the best care and support available, and the Not Just a Number Act takes a significant step forward in ensuring this by requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to take a comprehensive approach in understanding and addressing the factors contributing to veteran suicide,”  said Mace. “By expanding research and analysis, we can gain valuable insights which will inform more effective prevention strategies and provide targeted support to those in need. This legislation is a testament to our commitment to honor the sacrifices of our veterans and prioritize their well-being.”


Currently, when the VA analyzes veteran suicide data, they do not have access to whether a veteran utilized education opportunities, job training, housing, or full disbursement of benefits. The Not Just a Number Act would require the VA to examine benefits usage in their annual suicide prevention report in order to evaluate the relationship between VA benefits and veteran suicide. 


The bill would also have VA analyze which benefits have the greatest impact on preventing suicide, and require the Department to issue recommendations for expansion of those benefits in their fight to combat veteran suicides. Lastly, the bill would include a study on upstream veteran suicide prevention, create a toolkit for state and local medical examiners to improve reporting on veteran suicide, and a feasibility and advisability study on elevating the VA’s suicide prevention office to the Office of the Secretary level.

Text of the legislation is available  here.

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