RD654 - Department of Veterans Services (DVS) Suicide Prevention and Opioid Addiction Services (SOS) Program – November 1, 2023

Executive Summary:

*This report was replaced in its entirety by the Department of Veterans Services on December 6, 2023.

The General Assembly of Virginia, through the Appropriations Act (Chapter 2, 2022 Acts of Assembly Special Session I, Item 470.F) earmarked general funds of $5,000,000 for the first year (FY23) and $5,000,000 the second year (FY24) to the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) to establish a program for prevention and intervention of suicide and opioid addiction for service members, veterans, and their families throughout the Commonwealth.

Specifically, DVS is to collaborate with federal, state, local and community organizations, public and private institutions, and other service providers to develop programs to prevent suicide among service members and address opiate/opioid addiction suffered by service members and veterans. The new SOS program provides outreach and training to Federal, State, and local partners and initiated a new community and research grant program to enhance prevention, intervention, and recovery services statewide.(*1)

The Appropriations Act directed DVS to coordinate with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), and the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), whenever possible, to promote the use of evidence-based practices in continuity with other suicide and opiate/opioid misuse prevention and intervention programs administered by the Commonwealth.

Dr. Angela Porter, PhD, joined DVS in September 2022 as the Director of the Suicide Prevention and Opioid Addiction Services (or SOS) Program. Initial program development research and partnership formation began in December 2022.
(*1) Opiate - An opiate, in classical pharmacology, is a substance derived from opium. In more modern usage, the term opioid is used to designate all substances, both natural and synthetic, that bind to opioid receptors in the brain.