The Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is in charge of national suicide prevention media outreach campaigns, but they didn't do much work this year.
The focus for the campaign, since 2010, is to raise awareness of the Veterans Crisis Line, a line the KVUE Defenders reported problems with locally. The crisis line is to give support to veterans in an emotional crisis.
According to the VA, 20 veterans die by suicide a day. It's higher than the national civilian average.
But the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found the outreach activities declined in recent years "due to leadership turnover and reorganization."
A GAO report released this week shows the "VHA has not established targets for the majority of these metrics. Officials said they have not established targets because, apart from one industry-wide target they use, they lack meaningful targets for evaluating the campaign. However, VHA could use information about how its metrics performed in the past to develop reasonable and meaningful targets for future performance. Without established targets for its metrics, VHA is missing an opportunity to better evaluate the effectiveness of its suicide prevention media outreach campaign."
It showed the VA had a budget of $6.2 million, but anticipated spending only $1.5 million on suicide prevention paid media for fiscal year 2018. The remaining $4.7 million would be "de-obligated" at the end of the year and not used for suicide prevention media outreach.
The VA concurred with the findings adding it has "made organizational improvements, including hiring a permanent Director for Suicide Prevention and establishing a new organizational structure."
Read the full report here.