Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins commended the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) partnership with OnStar’s emergency services to improve access to suicide prevention resources for veterans. The partnership will allow veterans in crisis to use the emergency services button in an OnStar-equipped vehicle or the OnStar Guardian smartphone app to be transferred to the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line, which provides around-the-clock, confidential support.
“The men and women who served our nation in uniform should never have to face a crisis or experience suicidal thoughts alone,” said Senator Collins. “This groundbreaking partnership will help ensure that veterans in Maine and throughout the country have access to immediate and high-quality mental health programs and resources when they need it most.”
An average of 20 veterans die by suicide each day. Through this partnership, VA and OnStar, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors, will collaborate to provide education and training to VA clinicians and OnStar call center staff. Additionally, VA will provide resources and education to OnStar about military culture and how to determine if a caller is a veteran.
Senator Collins, who represents a state with the second-highest percentage of veterans in the nation, has been a longstanding champion of increasing mental health care access for veterans. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the VA, she has year-after-year pushed to increase funding for mental health services and suicide prevention outreach. She recently joined the Maine delegation in celebrating the announcement of the approval of a new 24-bed residential Substance Use Disorder treatment center at Togus.
Additionally, Senator Collins is a recipient of the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Congressional Award for her work to support veterans.