Underwood Continues Advocacy for Veterans, Pushes for Implementation of the Lethal Means Safety Training Act in House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearing

September 22, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON  – Today, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) advocated for the implementation of her legislation, the Lethal Means Safety Training Act, during a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing  on veteran suicide prevention. The Lethal Means Safety Training Act would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expand its evidence-based lethal means safety training to all VA employees regularly interacting with veterans, as well as community care providers and family caregivers. During the hearing, Underwood questioned Dr. Matthew Miller, the Executive Director of the VA’s Suicide Prevention Program, on the actions the VA has taken to expand lethal means safety trainings for VA staff, community care providers, and caregivers. 

 

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the August 26 terror attack in Kabul that killed 13 U.S. servicemembers threaten to exacerbate our nation’s already unacceptable and tragic veteran suicide crisis. The VA must continue to take every available step to ensure that veterans suffering from new or worsened mental health conditions have access to the care and support they need, including by expanding evidence-based practices to prevent veteran suicide like lethal means safety,” said Representative Underwood. “My Lethal Means Safety Training Act would expand the required training courses to ensure that anyone who regularly interacts with veterans in their work is prepared to have a conversation that could save a veteran’s life.”

 

Video of Underwood’s hearing remarks can be found here.

 

According to a previous VA National Suicide Data Report, veterans who currently or recently used VHA services had higher rates of suicide than those who did not. This makes VA employees and contractors essential partners in promoting evidence-based suicide prevention practices, such as lethal means safety, which is one of the few population-level interventions that reduce suicide rates. VA’s training equips recipients for conversations with veterans about lethal means safety, helping them to create valuable time and space in the event of a crisis. According to VA researchers, “for a veteran in crisis, lethal means safety during a critical period can make all the difference.”

 

By updating and expanding VA’s current training, Underwood’s legislation would better prepare VA staff to serve the veteran population.

 

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at Http://VeteransCrisisLine.Net/Chat.

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