Gov. Whitmer invests in veteran suicide prevention

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 2:52 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2022 at 3:57 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a $1.2 million investment in veteran suicide prevention programs.

“Veteran suicide remains a persistent problem in Michigan and nationwide,” said Governor Whitmer. “We must use every resource and tool we have to protect the lives of our former service members.”

According to available data, the funds represent the largest investment in veteran suicide prevention outreach since at least the year 2000 and likely the largest in Michigan’s history. The investment was announced Wednesday following a roundtable discussion with veterans and veteran advocates attended by Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II and Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) Director Zaneta Adams.

“Today’s investment will expand funding for suicide prevention efforts in Michigan and build on the ongoing efforts of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency to keep veterans and their families safe and healthy,” said Whitmer. “In the last bipartisan budget I signed, we made the largest investment in veteran suicide prevention in over 20 years because the brave men and women who fought for our country deserve our strong support in both our words and actions. I will work with anyone to ensure that they have high-quality mental and physical health care and economic and educational opportunities. Let’s keep delivering for our veterans and their families.”

According to the latest available data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 704 Michigan veterans died by suicide from 2016-19. That’s an average of 176 suicides annually over four years.

Issues that can start a veteran spiraling toward crisis include housing and employment challenges, substance abuse and lack of mental health support for combat PTSD. A critical first step is getting former service members to identify as veterans and understand the benefits and resources that are available to them.

“The funding will support the ongoing efforts of the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans and their Families,” said MVAA Director Zaneta Adams. “Effective veteran suicide prevention strategy involves a holistic approach. We know that connection to health care and other resources reduces suicides for veterans, so when we help a veteran with housing needs or emergency grant assistance, we are part of the prevention. But we need help from everyone. From barbershops to banks to schools to hospitals to churches. We should all take part in preventing suicides among veterans and their families through the Michigan Veteran Connector initiative.”

The MVAA, through its new Michigan Veteran Connector initiative, will connect with organizations and businesses across the state in hopes of getting their help in reaching veterans. By asking customers if they served in the military and, if so, referring them to the MVAA’s 1-800-MICH-VET hotline, Veteran Connectors can ultimately help veterans get linked to the resources they need to thrive.

If you’re a veteran in crisis or concerned about one, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 988 and press 1; text 838255; or chat online confidentially at