‘Not Just a Number Act’ aimed at addressing veteran suicide crisis
Little Rock, Arkansas – In the US, about 22 veterans take their own lives every day. To solve this ongoing situation, U.S. Senator John Boozman is attempting to advance a bipartisan bill.
Veterans in Arkansas continue to commit suicide at a higher rate than veterans nationwide. According to recent data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, 89 veterans from Arkansas committed suicide in 2020.
Sen. Boozman stated that he does not take this situation lightly.
“What we’re asking the VA to do is give us more comprehensive data regarding those who have committed suicide,” Boozman said, “What are the factors involved?”
The VA currently only keeps track of the number of veterans who have recently visited them for medical or mental health appointments, but the Not Just a Number Act will make the VA do more.
“What programs in the VA seem to be working,” Boozman said. “Maybe as we look into this data, we’d see that veterans who are committing suicide aren’t engaged in particular programs.”
The intention is to shift away from only tracking suicide as a clinical issue to adopting a more comprehensive perspective; the law would require the VA to additionally examine veterans’ usage of housing programs, education and employment benefits, and disability benefits.
“And then we can focus our resources on the things that are working,” Boozman said.
Tracking this data, according to Boozman, should have an impact.
“I think as we make headway on veterans’ suicide, we can take what we learn there and transfer it,” Boozman said. “We have a real problem with active-duty suicide. It’s much higher than the general population.”
In the end, the Not Just a Number Act is intended to provide another resource for veterans who are in need of assistance and might perhaps save their lives.
The Not Just a Number Act was written by Senator Boozman in collaboration with Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana. Boozman stated that he anticipates congressional backing for the bipartisan initiative.