STARS AND STRIPES
By NIKKI WENTLING
Published: December 17, 2018
Starting in June 2012, the VA consistently aired suicide preventions PSAs every month, either on the television or radio. When GAO investigators looked into the issue in August 2018, the VA hadn’t aired a PSA in over a year.
WASHINGTON — A federal investigation found the money and effort expended by the Department of Veterans Affairs on suicide prevention outreach dropped significantly in 2017 and 2018, despite it being touted by the past two VA secretaries as their top clinical priority.
The Government Accountability Office reported Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, that the Department of Veterans Affairs spent only $1.5 million on suicide prevention programs. The department was alloted $6.2 million for such programs. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE
Following a yearlong investigation, the Government Accountability Office reported Monday that the VA has cut back since 2016 on suicide prevention outreach. Of the $6.2 million budget obligated for suicide prevention outreach in fiscal year 2018, the agency had spent only $57,000, or less than 1 percent, by September. Agency officials told investigators they would end up spending a total $1.5 million by Oct. 1, the end of the fiscal year. The remainder, $4.7 million, went unused.
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In 2017, the VA had a budget of $1.7 million for suicide prevention and other mental health outreach. The VA spent about $136,000, or less than 10 percent, on suicide prevention. Also in 2017, the VA had a “limited effort” for suicide prevention month in September because they didn't prepare, the GAO found.