WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – a senior member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – today introduced the bipartisan Female Veterans Suicide Prevention Act after learning about the alarming increases in suicide among female veterans detailed in a recent Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) study. The bill would expand the VA’s yearly evaluation of mental health and suicide prevention programs to include metrics specific to female veterans. It would also require the VA to measure which programs are most effective for female veterans. A fact sheet can be found here.
“Improving access to quality mental health care programs and professionals is a critical part of supporting our veterans when they return home,” Brown said. “This bill will ensure that the VA tailors mental health programs to more effectively serve female veterans.”
Female veterans are the fastest growing veteran population being treated by the VA and account for approximately ten percent of the veteran population. From 2000 to 2010, researchers tracked approximately 174,000 veterans and non-veterans and found that the rate of suicide among female veterans increased 40 percent during that time period. The data also revealed that women veterans – who now account for ten percent of the veteran population – commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of civilian women, and for female veterans between 18-29 years old the risk doubles. This legislation would provide the VA with gender-specific data to improve and expand mental health and suicide prevention programs intended for women.
The House companion bill, which passed of out of the House Veterans Affairs Committee in September 2015, has the support of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), National Military Family Association and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PAV).
Brown encourages any veterans, servicemembers, or their families who are in crisis to seek help and assistance by contacting the Veterans Crisis Line – a confidential resource that connects veterans, their family, or friends, with qualified VA responders – at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1.