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September 26, 2019

New Program Enlists Community Support to Help Prevent Veteran Suicide

A bipartisan congressional coalition is spearheading a new program to help veterans at risk for suicide.  The Be Connected Program focuses on training civilians to recognize warning signs of a myriad of issues that might lead a veteran to suicide.  This new approach comes after recognition that nearly 64% of veterans who die by suicide are not connected with the VA healthcare system.  Supporters of the project hope to better reach veterans by training members of the veteran’s community, called “navigators.”  These navigators can call a central phone line where they can refer a veteran to a variety of services from healthcare to financial assistance.  The program mirrors an Arizona National Guard initiative that was implemented after nearly a dozen members of the Arizona National Guard were lost to suicide in 2010.  The suicide rate of Arizona National Guard veterans dropped to zero the year after the program was put in place.  Legislators hope that developing this program on a national basis will have a similar result.