Secretary Robert Wilkie’s message for Suicide Prevention Month

Hello, I’m Robert Wilkie, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

I’m blessed with the opportunity to serve our nation’s 20 million Veterans. Until recently, I was also honored to serve more than 1.4 million dedicated service members, and their families, at the Department of Defense.

Service members and Veterans who have defended our freedom have earned our enduring gratitude. They should have the opportunity to live meaningful, productive lives, in the same freedom and peace that their service and sacrifices made possible for so many other Americans.

Unfortunately, the cost of defending freedom can be tragically high. On average, 20 American Veterans die by suicide each day. Of those, 14 do not seek health care within our VA.

VA is committed to delivering the highest quality care to Veterans, providing some with access to specialized innovative care, that may be unavailable in the private sector. And more and more, Veterans are receiving care through VA.

Ultimately, whether Veterans choose VA, or get care or support from a peer, or a community agency, there is no wrong door when it comes to saving lives. Preventing Veterans suicide is a top priority for VA, the Department of Defense and this administration. Our goal is to prevent suicide among all Veterans, including those who may not receive care from us.

This September, during Suicide Prevention Month, we’re spreading awareness about the risk factors and warning signs for suicide, and helping people start the conversation around mental health and support for Veterans

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