On April 1, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a notice in the Federal Register requesting information as it implements a new suicide prevention grant program, Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program (SSG Fox SPGP), authorized in October 2020 as part of the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019 (Hannon Act, PL 116-171). The SSG Fox SPGP will provide $174 million in grants over three years to improve collaboration between community-based organizations and the VA to better identify veterans at risk of suicide, giving mental health providers more time to intervene.
Under the program, eligible entities may receive up to $750,000 per fiscal year to provide or coordinate providing suicide prevention services to eligible veterans and their families, including making referrals to VA for individuals deemed at-risk of suicide. County governments are among the entities eligible to apply for SSG Fox SPG funding.
As key partners in the effort to prevent veteran suicide, county officials can utilize the request for information as an opportunity to provide feedback on:
- How VA should prioritize and select grantees.
- How VA should measure program effectiveness.
- Ideal forms of training and technical assistance.
- Standards VA should establish for referring at-risk individuals to VA for additional care.
- The process to determine risk of suicide.
- The types of non-traditional and innovative approaches and treatment practices to suicide prevention that should VA consider.
Comments are due on or before April 22, 2021 and can be submitted here. NACo will continue to monitor implementation of the SSG Fox SPGP and additional opportunities for county governments to access federal resources to prevent veteran suicides.