The Trump administration’s Department of Veterans Affairs failed to spend millions of dollars that were allocated for suicide prevention, according to a new report released Monday by the Government Accountability Office. Despite public pronouncements touting their continued focus on preventing suicide among returning soldiers, Veterans Affairs officials left millions of dollars available for outreach campaigns in 2018 untouched and severely cut back on their advertising efforts, the report found. Of the $6.2 million set aside for suicide prevention media outreach, only $57,000—less than one percent—was actually used. The VA’s social-media presence dropped precipitously from 2017 to 2018, and content mentioning suicide fell by more than two-thirds in one year. No public outreach messages were aired on national television or radio for more than a year. “At a time when 20 veterans a day still die by suicide, VA should be doing everything in its power to inform the public about the resources available to veterans in crisis,” said ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN).
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