Reps. O'Halleran, Gallego Request Oversight Hearing on Veteran Suicides
WASHINGTON – Today Reps. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) and Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) sent a letter to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs requesting an oversight hearing on veteran suicide prevention.
The request follows publication of a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that identified serious issues with the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) suicide prevention media outreach campaign. The GAO reported a drastic drop in suicide prevention outreach, and found the agency lacked metric targets to evaluate the effectiveness of their outreach.
“Even though the VA has identified suicide prevention as its highest clinical priority, the VA is failing to do everything it can to save lives and veteran suicide remains at epic levels,” the Congressmen wrote in a letter to Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano and Ranking Member Phil Roe. “We appreciate your hard work to address this issue and we respectfully request that you hold an oversight hearing as soon as possible to ensure that the VA is implementing GAO’s recommendations and effectively executing its suicide prevention outreach campaign.”
O’Halleran and Gallego also requested to appear at the hearing “to ensure Arizona’s disproportionately at-risk veterans are appropriately represented.” Arizona has the 6th highest veteran suicide rate in the nation, and according to an Arizona State University study, veterans in Arizona are nearly four times more likely to take their own lives than non-veterans.
The full letter can be found here.