The Georgia Department of Veterans Service (GDVS) is working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to prevent veteran suicide in Georgia.
The GDVS recently received a grant of $747,464 from VA to support its mission through the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program (SSG Fox SPGP), a three-year program that provides funding to community-based organizations with innovative ideas for preventing veteran suicide.
With its SSG Fox SPGP award, the GDVS will work with the Center for the Advancement of Military and Emergency Services (AMES) Research at Kennesaw State University to identify emerging trends of suicidality in veterans in Georgia. Together, the GDVS and AMES will develop and deliver scalable veteran and family-appropriate suicide prevention programming for both in-person and virtual delivery. The AMES team will also develop predictive analytic models of areas of emerging concern and improve equity in access to services for service members, veterans, and their families.
“I look forward to seeing the Georgia Department of Veterans Service and Kennesaw State University Center for AMES Research use these funds to better serve those who have served our nation,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “We all owe a great debt to the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. In Georgia, we will continue working to ensure our brave veterans receive the help they need when facing uncertainty, despair, and other challenges.”
The SSG Fox SPGP is a pilot, community-based grant program that provides financial assistance to eligible entities to provide or coordinate providing suicide prevention services to eligible veterans and their families.
“This is an incredible opportunity to address and enhance equity in care for Georgia’s veterans. As we look toward the future, the SSG Fox SPGP grant will enable us to identify our areas of most urgent need and enhance our long-term ability to address behavioral health for veterans and families,” said Dr. Brian Moore, Director of the AMES Center. “The AMES Research Center is honored to partner with the GDVS on this timely and much needed work.”
Suicide in veterans is a complex problem, which requires coordinated, evidence-based solutions beyond the traditional medical model of prevention. The GDVS joined the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide in Servicemembers, Veterans, and their Families in 2020 with the support of Governor Kemp.
“One suicide is too many. It takes all of us working together to help our veterans receive the care and support they need and earned through their service to our nation,” said GDVS Commissioner Patricia Ross. “We look forward to making a difference in the lives of our veterans and reducing veteran suicides across Georgia.”
Georgia’s Governor’s Challenge team is a network of resources with representation from local, state, and federal agencies and non-profit community-based organizations. The network partners provide or facilitate access to clinical services, peer support, case management, outreach, education, and help obtaining veterans benefits.
The GDVS suicide prevention program will be enhanced by the support of the SSG Fox SPGP. In 2020, the GDVS suicide prevention team conducted 10,851 unique program visits and worked with the Atlanta VA Healthcare System to address suicide prevention at 336 unique events. The GDVS recognized an increased need to provide expanded services in suicide prevention and health promotion through these outreach efforts.
A life honored
SSG Fox SPGP honors Veteran Parker Gordon Fox, who joined the Army in 2014 and was a sniper instructor at the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Known for a life of generosity and kindness to others in need, Fox died by suicide on July 21, 2020, at the age of 25.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Dial 988 then Press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or text 838255.
The Georgia Department of Veterans Service (GDVS) is not part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but is an agency of Georgia’s state government created for the purpose of advising, counseling, and assisting Georgia’s veterans and their families in receiving their rightful benefits under the vast and complex framework of veterans’ laws. The GDVS mission, to serve Georgia's veterans and their families in all matters pertaining to veterans benefits, falls into two basic tasks: informing veterans and their families about veterans’ benefits, and directly assisting and advising veterans and their families in securing the federal and state benefits to which they are entitled.
The GDVS has offered assistance to Georgia’s veterans and their families for nearly 100 years. The department serves the state’s nearly 700,000 veterans and their families in all matters pertaining to veterans benefits, including applying for the federal and state veterans benefits they have earned at no cost. The state also offers help through a robust appeals division, 2 war veterans homes, 2 veterans memorial cemeteries, and coordinating services across state agencies to veterans.