VA’s top suicide prevention official departing in July
By: Leo Shane III
June 26, 2019
At least 24 suicides have occurred on VA campuses in the last 20 months, several in public areas. But department officials insist that the suicide rate at those clinics and hospitals has actually decreased in recent years, even as visibility of the problems has risen.
Dr. Keita Franklin, who has served as the National Director for Suicide Prevention at VA for the last 18 months, will step down from the job in July. (Zachary Hada/Air Force)
Veterans Affairs’ top suicide prevention official will leave that post next month as the congressional focus on the department’s efforts continues to increase.
Dr. Keita Franklin, who has served as the National Director for Suicide Prevention at VA for the last 18 months, will step down from the job in July. Officials said the move was not related to any issues with her office’s performance but instead based on other career opportunities outside of VA.
Dr. Matt Miller, the current director of the Veterans Crisis Line, will fill the post in an acting capacity until a permanent replacement is selected.
In a statement, department leaders praised Franklin for her work in the last few years, giving her credit for “key successes” in improving mental health care for veterans. Prior to joining VA, she served as the Defense Department’s top suicide prevention official.
Last fall, lawmakers blasted the department after the Government Accountability Office found that more than $6 million in suicide prevention and mental health support outreach funds went unspent by the department in fiscal 2018. Officials blamed that mistake on leadership changes at the department in prior months, including the firing of former VA Secretary David Shulkin.
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