Press Releases

WASHINGTON — Today, Jake Ellzey (R-TX-06), and Representatives Jason Crow (D-CO-06) reintroduced the Veterans' Sentinel Act, bipartisan legislation to respond to suicide by US veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities by improving the accuracy of data collection and enhancing congressional oversight. These measures follow an investigation that found multiple mistakes in the VA's reporting of suicides on campus. 

Veterans make up less than eight percent of the population, yet in 2022 represented a disproportionate 13.5% of all suicide deaths among adults in the US annually. While some of these deaths have occurred on VA property, the department was found to have inaccurately reported on-campus suicides. Today’s legislation aims to provide a clear understanding of the number of veterans who have sought to take their own life towards improving care. 

"After my military service, I came home to fight for veterans in our community. Too often, we’ve seen how an overly bureaucratic VA system prevents our veterans and their families from receiving the quality care our nation promised. I won’t stand by and allow the VA to fail our veterans in crisis,” said Congressman Crow. “I’m glad to renew our bipartisan efforts to increase oversight and improve the VA's response to veterans' suicide. Any way we can protect their lives, we must.” 

"Since the first day I took the oath of office, I have put veterans as a top priority of my legislative agenda. Twenty-two veterans die from suicide every day, and this is unacceptable," said Congressman Ellzey. "The Veterans' Sentinel Act would create a two-year pilot program in coordination with the VA's Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention to help combat this and save the lives of our veterans. It is only fitting that we as Americans take care of those who have taken care of us, and I am proud to work with my friend Representative Crow on this endeavor."

The bill is endorsed by VoteVets, Concerned Veterans for America, The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., Union Veterans Council, and Disabled American Veterans.

 "The Veterans of Foreign Wars endorses the Veterans’ Sentinel Act, which paves the way for crucial guidance aimed at enhancing the Department of Veterans Affairs' efforts to combat suicide. By prioritizing comprehensive data-driven solutions, we are taking a significant stride toward safeguarding the well-being of our revered veterans," said Steve Kjonaas, Legislative Director, Colorado Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.

The Veterans' Sentinel Act will:

  • Create a two-year pilot program working group within the VA's Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (OMHSP) specifically focused on veteran on-campus suicide and attempted suicides;
    • Comprised of representatives from relevant VA offices to improve coordination
    • Directed to use proven analytic methodology and tools to determine incident root causes
    • Empowered to improve data collection and management processes to minimize accounting gaps
  • Require the VA Secretary to submit to Congress an annual report detailing on-campus veteran suicides and suicide attempts, to include trend analysis and recommendations for improving prevention efforts; and
  • Direct the Comptroller General to conduct a review of the OMHSP and submit to Congress a report detailing the office's actions to prevent veteran suicide, identify challenges, and provide recommendations for improvement.