Adjutant General Says Proposed Funding Cuts Won’t Put Suicide Prevention At Risk

Feb 13, 2014

The Corbett administration is assuring lawmakers federal programs can pick up the slack left by reduced state spending on veterans programs.

The governor’s budget proposal would reduce outreach services by 13 percent, or about $350,000.

In response to questions about suicide prevention efforts, Adjutant General Wesley Craig, commander of the Pennsylvania National Guard, says a two-year-old federal effort is doing the lion’s share of the work.

"For the Pennsylvania — currently serving members of the Pennsylvania National Guard, who are veterans themselves, we have a very aggressive program funded primarily through the federal government and executed locally here, a series of training that goes on – suicide awareness training, suicide intervention training," he said.

Craig said the program has seen suicides in the Pennsylvania National Guard decrease over the past few years and has conducted about 150 requested interventions over the past two years.

A recent report by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs finds the rate of suicide among young veterans rose sharply between the years 2009 and 2011.

National and statewide data show a rise in suicide rates among the general population, though suicides are still more common among veterans compared to non-veterans.