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Photos: Lt. Governor Gilchrist Joins Veteran Suicide Prevention Roundtable, Highlights Veteran Investments in ‘Make it in Michigan’ Budget
July 28, 2023
LANSING, Mich. — Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II joined the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), legislators and veteran service organizations for a roundtable discussion on veteran and military suicide prevention.
“Our veterans are the best of us, and alongside our partners in the legislature and at the DMVA, Governor Whitmer and I are committed to achieving the goal of 0 veteran suicides in Michigan,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “Our recent budget continues a bipartisan $1.2 million investment to prevent veteran suicide, and we are working hard to connect veterans with the services they need to thrive, through initiatives like the “I Served. I am a Veteran.” campaign to help veterans self-identify, expanded support for underserved veteran populations including women, tribal veterans, unhoused, and incarcerated veterans, and more. This is a problem we can and must make progress on together, and together, we can create space and safety where every veteran feels comfortable and confident, knowing the State of Michigan will not let them down.”
The recently passed budget includes $1.2 million for veteran suicide prevention efforts and $2 million for veteran homelessness grants, improving the health and well-being of Michigan’s more than 550,000 military veterans and their families.
“The Whitmer-Gilchrist administration, our federal and state delegation and veteran service organizations continue to make veteran suicide prevention a priority,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan DMVA. “Through increased efforts to reach underserved veteran populations and under-served areas across Michigan, we expect the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency’s announcement of a new statewide outreach and advertising campaign, “I Served. I am a Veteran,” to help the agency identify and engage with more veterans. Evidence shows that the more connected veterans are to healthcare and other services, the lower their risk is for suicide.”
“I Served. I Am a Veteran.” aims to engage veterans, collect their stories and get them connected to the earned benefits and services that can help them thrive and prevent the issues that can lead to suicide.
“Everything we do to serve Michigan veterans and their families is done through the lens of preventing veteran suicide,” said Adam Hollier, director of the MVAA. “The MVAA is taking a collaborative, holistic approach to veteran suicide by addressing risk factors such as veteran homelessness, unemployment and combat PTSD. By partnering with our federal, state and community partners, we are determined to reach and support our struggling veterans with the appropriate care and services before a crisis can occur.”
Veteran suicide remains a persistent problem. In 2020, 178 veterans died by suicide in Michigan, according to the latest available data from the VA. The veteran suicide rate of 31.1 per 100,000 people in 2020 was much higher than the suicide rate for the overall Michigan population — 17.8 per 100,000 people. From 2016-2020, 882 veterans died by suicide in Michigan, an average of 176 suicides a year.
The MVAA is the facilitating member of the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and their Families in Michigan. Through the Governor’s Challenge, more than 140 people from local, state and federal partners work together to address the factors that lead to veteran suicide in Michigan. The team created the Michigan Veteran Connector initiative in 2021 to get hospitals, businesses and organizations that serve the public to help identify veterans. To show your support for Michigan veterans, take the pledge to ask your patients, clients, or customers if they served. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and to become a Michigan Veteran Connector.
Images of the roundtable are available for download at: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjANUxg.