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WHEREAS, suicide is a national public health challenge that causes immeasurable pain among individuals, families, and communities across the country; and

WHEREAS, both Virginia and the nation have seen an alarming rate of Military Service Members and Veterans suicide over the last two decades; and

WHEREAS, on March 5, 2019, the President signed Executive Order 13861, establishing the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS); and

WHEREAS, PREVENTS calls for the development of a comprehensive plan to empower Veterans and end suicide through coordinated prevention efforts, prioritized research activities, and strengthened collaboration across the public and private sectors; and

WHEREAS, the City of Richmond was one of the first eight cites to join the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in the Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF); and

WHEREAS, Virginia was one of the first seven States to join the VA and SAMHSA in a Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among SMVF; and

WHEREAS, Virginia developed an interagency team, led by the Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs and the Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources, to address Veteran suicide at the state level; and

WHEREAS, the Virginia Governor's Challenge to Prevent Suicide team focuses on a public health approach to provide outreach and support to military and veteran families where they live, work, and thrive in local communities; and

WHEREAS, a diverse coalition of organizations and stakeholder groups stand ready to leverage the learnings from our fellow Virginians, especially, our Veterans, to encourage a national discussion on mental health and wellbeing, and to collaborate on meaningful solutions; and

WHEREAS, the PREVENTS national public health campaign REACH, will seek to increase mental health awareness to reduce suicide for all Americans;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize September 2021 as PREVENTS 2021 in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.