(The Center Square) — A federal investment into veterans in Rhode Island will be focused on a new program.
The Rhode Island Department of Health will receive $750,000 in federal funding to implement a three-year plan with the Providence Veterans Administration Medical Center and other agencies designed to tackle mental health issues and suicide among the state’s veterans and their families, Gov. Dan McKee said.
"Suicide among service members, veterans, and their families is a public health crisis, and we all have an obligation to be part of the solution," McKee said in a release. "This grant will help us strengthen the existing support network we have in Rhode Island for veterans and their families, and it will help us put in place new strategies to keep veterans healthy and safe."
The grant, which comes through the U.S. Department of Affairs’ Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention program, is aimed to supporting suicide prevention efforts that are community-based through outreach, suicide prevention services, and health care and other community resources, according to the release.
"Veteran suicide rates are decreasing, but they are still too high and we’ve got to keep working to ensure every veteran gets the care and help they need," U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee said in a release. "Programs like this are going to continue to help do that.
"I wrote the 988 suicide prevention law to make it easier for people in crisis to get help and helped pass the Commander John Scott Hannon Act to deliver this latest round of federal aid and help veterans get the integrated care they need, when they need it."
The Executive Office of Health and Human Services, according to the release, will work with Veterans Affairs, the Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services, and other military-focused organizations to administer the program.
Gun safety, connecting veterans with Veterans Affairs and coordinating a referral system for veterans to receive care will be the core focus of the program. There will also be training for health care providers on veteran needs and developing education materials.