VA Releases National Suicide Data Report

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released findings from its most recent analysis of Veteran suicide data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This report yields several important insights:
– Suicide rates increased for both Veterans and non-Veterans, underscoring the fact that suicide is a national public health concern that affects people everywhere.

– The average number of Veterans who died by suicide each day remained unchanged at 20.

– The suicide rate increased faster among Veterans who had not recently used Veterans Health Administration health care than among those who had.

– The report, known as “VA National Suicide Data Report 2005–2015,” is available at

The analysis is part of VA’s ongoing examination of more than 55 million civilian and Veteran death records that is being used to evaluate and improve VA’s Suicide Prevention Program.

Data from this report were obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Death Index and then linked to both VA and Department of Defense (DoD) data.

VA is committed to publishing the most accurate suicide data possible. CDC has 2016 data, but VA works with both CDC and DoD to analyze millions of records and data sources to produce an analysis of suicide deaths for all known Veterans.

This collaboration adds a layer of complexity to the analysis process thus making 2015 the most current year for which VA is able to publish complete Veteran suicide data.
VA is working with CDC and DoD to innovate and refine the data analysis and plans to publish 2016 Veteran suicide data in fall 2018.

The report includes suicide rates from 2005 to 2015 for both Veteran and non-Veteran populations segmented by age, race and gender, and analyzes Veteran rates based on service branch and era, suicide method and suicide risk factors. These data inform the ongoing work of VA and its partners to prevent suicide and expand the network of support for Veterans.

“Suicide remains a top clinical priority,” said Acting VA Secretary Mr. Peter O’Rourke. “One life lost to suicide is one too many. Suicide is a serious public health concern in the Veteran population and across all communities nationwide. These data offer important insights to help VA to build effective networks of support, communication and care that reach Veterans where they live and thrive.”

Suicide is a complex issue and is influenced by a multitude of intersecting factors that can increase or decrease suicide risk. The VA Suicide Prevention Program’s public health approach addresses the risk factors associated with suicidal behavior — such as a prior suicide attempt, stressful life events or the availability of lethal means — while promoting the protective factors that can offset risk — such as positive coping skills, feeling connected to other people and access to mental health care.

Data form an integral part of VA’s public health strategy and enable VA to tailor research-backed suicide-prevention initiatives to reach diverse groups across the Veteran population.

In the years since these data were captured, VA has undertaken substantial suicide-prevention efforts, including:

– Expansion of the Veterans Crisis Line

– Creation of new cross-sector partnerships

– Implementation of the Joint Action Plan for Supporting

– V eterans During Their Transition From Uniformed Service to Civilian Life

– Launch of SAVE online suicide prevention training

– Development of the forthcoming National Strategy for

– Preventing Veteran Suicide

Learn more about VA’s suicide-prevention resources and programs at
Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a Veteran in crisis, should call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at 800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online at, or send a text message to 838255.

Vietnam Veteran Hanzes is New State Commander

Congratulations to the Pennsylvania VFW Department’s new State Commander, Vietnam War Veteran Thomas M. Hanzes of Post 7599, who was installed on Saturday as the Department’s top officer.

In addition, Wayne D. Perry of Post 7505, assumed the office of State Sr. Vice Commander, and Post 212 member Ronald J. Peters was chosen as State Junior Vice Commander.

More information about the Department’s entire leadership team will follow soon.

Comrade Hanzes
Commander Hanzes has served as Chairman of the State VFW’s Community Activities program, which tracks the many thousands of hours VFW and VFW Auxiliary volunteers contribute and donations made to projects that serve veterans, military personnel and local communities.

He has been a Post Commander four times and Post Quartermaster ten times including twice when he earned “VFW All-State Team” status. At the VFW District level, he was an All-State and All-American Commander.

His leadership at the state level including serving as POW/MIA Chairman and as a member of the Legislative Resolution Committee. Nationally, he was named a Special Aide-de-Camp, three times as a National Aide-de-Camp, a National Assistant Inspector General and a member of the Veterans Service Resolutions Committee.

During his military service with the 25th Infantry Division, Hanzes earned the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Bronze Service Star, Bronze Star for Valor, two Overseas Bars, the National Defense Service Medal and a Sharpshooter badge with the M-14 rifle.

President Trump Signs VFW Supported VA MISSION Act

Historic legislation will help veterans get the care they deserve

WASHINGTON – The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. thanks President Donald Trump for signing the VA MISSION Act.

The VFW was on hand as President Trump signed the VA MISSION Act of 2018 into law at the White House on June 6, 2018.

The VA MISSION Act was the result of a bipartisan and bicameral effort led by Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson, Ranking Member Sen. Jon Tester and House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Rep. Phil Roe. The legislation passed in the House on May 16 with a vote of 347-70. The Senate passed the bill on May 23 with a vote of 92-5.

“President Trump signaled his support for this bill early on in the process which shows that he puts veterans before politics,” said Keith Harman, national commander of the 1.7-million member VFW and its Auxiliary. “This historic legislation will help our veterans get the care they earned when they joined the military.”

“The VFW and other veteran service organizations worked closely with Congress and the White House to help create a carefully negotiated bipartisan deal with the fingerprints of veterans who rely on the VA all over it,” he said.

The VA MISSION Act will improve the Department of Veterans Affairs’ ability to hire high-quality health care professionals, streamline VA community care programs, expand caregiver benefits to pre-9/11 veterans and create a process to examine VA’s capital infrastructure to better serve veterans.
“The VA MISSION Act will help improve the care our veterans get at the VA while leveraging the capabilities of the private sector when needed. It will help recruit the best talent at the VA, which is what our veterans deserve, and it also extends caregiver benefits to every veteran who needs it,” Harman said.

Post Officer Training Sessions Announced

The Department has scheduled free summer Officer Training events to help Post Officers understand and fulfill their duties. These sessions are of great importance to both new and experienced Post officers. The format will be a combination of brief presentations, breakouts and question-and-answer periods.

Even if you have attended one of these sessions before, you will benefit from the updates, rules changes and new discussion opportunities. Each Post is encouraged to send several officers to create teamwork. State HQs will mail details to Post Commanders. Dress is casual with VFW Cap. All sessions begin at 9 a.m. (coffee/donuts at 8 a.m.; lunch at noon) except as otherwise noted.

SOUTHWESTERN PA OTI – August 4th, VFW Post 7505, Mars

NORTHWESTERN PA OTI – August 5th, VFW Post 2006, Meadville

SOUTHCENTRAL PA – “Flying Squadron” August 10th-11th, Radisson, Camp Hill Required for State VFW Officers and Program Leaders – By Invitation Only

SOUTHCENTRAL PA OTI – August 12th, Radisson Hotel, Camp Hill NORTHCENTRAL PA OTI – August 13th, VFW Post 1754, Huntingdon – 6 p.m.

NORTHEASTERN PA OTI – August 18th, VFW Post 5544, Jessup

SOUTHEASTERN PA OTI – August 19th, VFW Post 2819, Philadelphia

Incoming State Commander Thomas Hanzes encourages all Posts to participate in one of these sessions. Pre-registration is encouraged and can be done using the form that will be mailed to all Posts. For more information, call State HQ at (717) 234-7927

Nat’l VFW Website Offers Training Resources

By getting a user name and password on, you can access many tools and resources designed to help you lead the VFW well into the future because No One Does More For Veterans. To access the appropriate material, please choose from the categories below.

Member & Officer Training, Forms & Templates
Our success as an organization depends on members like you. From members to appointed or elected officers, we each have an important role to play. Whether you’ve just been elected or want to brush up on protocol, here’s where you can access resources designed with your role as a VFW leader in mind.

Community Service & Youth Programs
From community service projects to youth scholarship programs encouraging patriotism in classrooms worldwide, we work hard to improve our local communities and the lives of those in it. Here are tools and resources designed to aid you in your quest of supporting your local military, veterans and hometown community.

Membership Recruiting & Retention
Membership is the lifeblood of our organization, and we have all your recruiting needs covered in one spot! Whether you’re looking for training videos on recruiting, have questions about completing applications or want access to downloadable brochures and applications, find tools and tips to help you drive membership today.

Communications & Public Affairs
Getting the word out about the great programs and assistance we provide can be a challenge. Help your Post, District or Department achieve their communication goals by using these helpful resources like PSAs, website and social media how-to guides, press release templates and much more.
Post Service Officers

Helping veterans cut through the VA’s red tape is one of our greatest strengths. Presented in eight easy to watch segments, this special training series provides VFW Post service officers with important information and helpful insights into their role as an advocate for veterans.
Veterans & Military Support

As a combat veteran, you understand better than anyone the struggles and challenges facing our service members and their families. Our various assistance and support programs are there to help and whether you’re looking for posters, brochures or an application, you’re sure to find it here.

PA VFW Asked to Support Deployed Guardians

State HQ now has APO addresses for use by VFW Posts, Auxiliaries and members to send care packages to many deployed members of the PA Guard’s 28th ID now overseas. Guardians from across the state serve in this BN. Whether you can only send one box or 10 or more, VFW support of this group will show these PA soldiers that the VFW supports them and their families 100%, both now and when they come home.

Please strongly consider sending packages to each of these APOs, and make sure that they know the goodies from back home are coming from the VFW and Auxiliary. Be sure to report your troop support activity to State HQ so we know of your outreach to these Guardians. Please advise Public Affairs Director David Sandman ([email protected]) if you plan to send a large shipment of boxes at one time, so he can advise his military contacts.

Items requested by troops include:
Care packages for Deployed PA Guardians …

HQ just received some feedback from our contacts with the PAARNG 28th ID HHBN now deployed forward. When preparing your care packages for these 500 soldiers in the Middle East, please consider including these requested items:
– Big bags of Swedish Fish
– Bags of good ground coffee
– Beef Jerky Slim Jims
– Hershey candy (more candy and less chocolate- tends to get melted)
– Healthy snacks (granola bars, trail mix, protein bars)
– Gum
– Current issues of magazines (hunting, cars, video games)
– Chewable, lickable items
– Other snacks
– PA made treats that won’t melt
Here are the two APOs that the VFW can use to show their support for our Guardians overseas:
PA Guard Personnel
APO, AE  09315
APO, AE  09306
Thank you, VFW Posts, Auxiliaries and members for your support of our troops serving overseas. You can direct questions to State HQ/Public Affairs Director David Sandman, [email protected] Please let David know if you plan to send a large number of care packages at one time.


To learn more about how the VFW can support military personnel and their families, visit

If you have any questions, please email [email protected]

119th VFW National Convention

Kansas City, Mo., has been selected as host city for the 119th VFW National Convention, July 21-25, 2018.

Thousands of VFW and Auxiliary members will convene from all over the world at the Bartle Hall Kansas City Convention Center, in a city that is having its moment now! The Huffington Post recently named Kansas City the coolest city in America, Travel + Leisure has named KC the #1 affordable getaway 5 years in a row and Yelp named the Nelson-Atkins Museum the best in the country.

From its top chefs that keep winning notoriety to its makers and doers, like Baldwin Denim and Christopher Elbow Chocolates, who keep creating a nationwide buzz … if there were an award for making visitors feel like locals, Kansas City would grab that title, too. Plan your visit and see everything Kansas City has to offer here.

Housing for the 119th VFW National Convention is now open! Hotel space fills up quickly, so make your reservation today. Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.


As of April 26th, we are 53 days until national convention housing cut-off (June 18) for the July 21-25 convention in Kansas City.

We have had an overwhelming number of early housing reservations for the National Convention. Due to this early booking pattern, many state department blocks are now sold-out. For those sold-out departments with new reservations, we have encouraged individuals to complete the housing reservation form to be placed on a wait list for their assigned hotels.

In order to accommodate this growing wait list, all remaining rooms at each hotel in (VFW Department blocks) will be placed into one common block of rooms, known as “free-sell”. This means any remaining available rooms in each state block will no longer be earmarked for a specific state and will be part of the free-sell block, giving every state in its assigned hotel the ability to book rooms from the free-sell block and allowing us/VFW to fill the contracted room blocks.

NOTE: All wait list requests will be fulfilled before new reservations are processed.

If your department has rooms remaining in your assigned block, your attendees have until 9PM EST Thursday, May 3, to book these rooms. Beginning, Friday, May 4, any remaining rooms will be put into the free-sell block to fulfill wait listed requests. Beyond that, all subsequent new housing reservations will be taken from the “free-sell block” based on availability.

Room type requests will be honored when possible, however, it will be dependent on the availability of each type of room in each hotel.

VFW National is under contract with the current VFW hotels, therefore it is our goal to utilize all rooms contracted in each of those hotels first to avoid any penalties for not filling the contracted blocks.

In the event a hotel or hotels sell out completely, we will make every attempt, based on availability, to secure additional rooms at that hotel or to secure overflow rooms at other nearby hotels. If this occurs beyond the cut-off date, June 18, a determination will be made if VFW National is in a position to sign a contract for overflow hotel/s and to be obligated should those contracted overflow rooms not be utilized.

We encourage your attendees to make their reservations now for the National Convention. We cannot guarantee there will be availability through housing deadline of June 18 as the rooms are booking quickly and are first come, first served.

To make a reservation, go online to or call 877-464-6840 (980-337-3372 internationally). The call center is open from 8:30am – 9pm, ET, Monday – Friday.


More information