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Is the VA undercounting veteran suicide? House GOP demands answers

Veteran suicide rates are still higher than the rest of the population. (U.S. Army Reserve/Released)
August 16, 2023

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and multiple House Republicans issued a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough Tuesday, requesting answers from the VA regarding apparent discrepancies in veteran suicide rate reports.

A letter signed by 30 House Republicans that was obtained by The Daily Caller notes an interim report from America’s Warrior Partnership (AWP) in 20022, which suggests that the VA might be undercounting the rate of veteran suicides.

“Utilizing federal and state data, the AWP report reveals the veteran suicide rate may be 37 percent greater than what was reported by the VA from 2014-2018,” the House Republicans wrote.

Prior to the issuing of the letter, Biggs told the Daily Caller the “large discrepancy” in the reporting of veteran suicide “raises concerns that veterans are not receiving the help they are promised by the VA.”

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“Incorrect data can lead to misallocation of resources in veteran care and reduced effectiveness of VA programs,” Biggs explained. “I am committed to safeguarding the health of our nation’s veterans through oversight of the federal agency tasked with their care.”

House Republicans have requested the VA explain the “discrepancy between its own data and the data contained in the AWP report.”

The letter sent by House Republicans requests explanations regarding the steps the VA is taking to provide the most accurate information on veteran suicides, how the VA works with other state and federal agencies to gather information pertaining to veteran suicides, the efforts the VA is taking to improve the collection of veteran suicide data, and whether the VA has a plan to update its methodology for reporting veteran suicides.

Additionally, House Republicans asked the VA to explain how the agency works with “veteran support organizations” to help with suicide prevention, how the VA identifies “high-risk groups” and interventions, and whether the VA is researching the “root causes” of veteran suicide and “developing targeted prevention strategies.”