Harnessing the Power of Community

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While many veterans transition smoothly into civilian life, many face challenges. Every one of us knows, or knows of, a battle buddy who suffered from the invisible wounds of war and lost the struggle.

From 2008 to 2016, there were more than 6,000 veteran suicides each year, according to research conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2016, the suicide rate was 1.5 times greater for veterans than for nonveterans. 

On Wednesday, June 19, Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB) submitted testimony to the United States Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C in the hope that our nation can change those statistics.

The focus of this hearing on “Harnessing the Power of Community: Leveraging Veteran Networks to Tackle Suicidewas threefold:

  1. Identifying the various factors that lead a veteran to crisis
  2. Identifying how communities are providing suicide prevention resources and services to veterans
  3. Identifying how the VA can leverage these networks to expand accessibility to the resources provided

Veteran suicide is an important and nuanced topic. While the mission of Team RWB is not directly related to veteran suicide, we lead the way in veteran wellbeing and engaging veterans at the local and community levels.

The hearing also included testimony from Robert L. Wilkie, secretary of Veterans Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs; Mike Haynie, Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF); Colonel Miguel Howe, an April and Jay Graham Fellow of the Military Service Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute; Jessica Kavanagh, founder and president of VetLinks; Major General Matthew T. Quinn, adjutant general for the Montana National Guard; and Lieutenant Colonel James Lorraine, president and chief executive officer of the America’s Warrior Partnership.

Team RWB’s complete testimony is available to review.