March 26, 2021

Manchin Discusses Veterans Mental Health During Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing

Video of Senator Manchin during the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing can be found here.

Washington, DC – This week, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC), questioned a panel of Veteran community experts and leaders during the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on Veteran mental health, and encouraged the VA to quickly implement and promote the 988 crisis hotline. Senator Manchin asked about outreach from Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities to older Veterans who have become disconnected during the COVID-19 pandemic and about outreach for the Veterans Crisis Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The Veterans Crisis Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provide free and confidential support. The current Veterans Crisis Line number is 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is the same toll-free number (1-800-273-8255). Last year, Congress passed legislation that would simplify the phone number for the crisis hotlines to 988 by July 16, 2022.

Senator Manchin said in part, “With our older Veteran population increasingly becoming disconnected from their communities over the pandemic, especially in rural areas such as West Virginia, many have lost a majority of their support networks. Just two months ago, we had a 70 year old West Virginia Veteran commit suicide in the parking lot of a VA, which is unbelievable. So how are we tailoring outreach and care for older Veterans?...We have a national suicide prevention lifeline, 800-273-8255, and I don’t know how many people can memorize that one. That’s why we passed the three digit dialing code for a hotline, which won’t start until July 16, 2022. So how are we getting this information out to Veterans so they have help just a phone call away?... I’ll say this too, the Veterans are still the glue that holds this country together, they hold us together in Washington… We do all agree on how special our Veterans are and that’s why we just are so diligent and vigilant about the services that we’re expected to give and that you all are doing and we appreciate that, but we always need to do better.”

Last year, Congress passed Senator Manchin’s John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Improvement Act, to address the high rate of Veteran suicide in West Virginia and across the country. Senator Manchin has also called on the VA to quickly implement 988 as the dialing code for the Veterans Crisis Line and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as part of Senator Manchin’s efforts to establish an easy-to-remember three-digit dialing code.

A video of Senator Manchin’s questions during Joint Hearing of the House of Representatives and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees can be found here.