O’Mara appointed to serve on governor’s challenge team to prevent suicide among military members

HARRISBURG, July 18 — In an effort to curb suicide among Pennsylvania veterans and military members, state Rep. Jennifer O’Mara was invited to join the Governor’s Challenge Team to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and Their Families.

As a legislative member, O’Mara will explore policy initiatives that could prevent veteran/military member suicides and increase accessibility to support measures. The challenge team strives to achieve a zero-suicide outcome in Pennsylvania. 

“My dad was a marine and he died by suicide when I was a teenager,” O’Mara said. “Losing a loved one to suicide is a tragedy that no family should have to go through. It’s my honor to use my experience to help others. By introducing legislation that fights the mental health stigma, increases accessibility to treatment and supports those who sadly are affected by suicide, we can help countless people and truly save lives.”  

Pennsylvania is one of 27 states taking part in the Governor’s Challenge. Participants work to implement statewide suicide prevention best practices and learn from stakeholders nationwide. Through this program, the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs spearheads efforts, such as gun safety, eliminating barriers to treatment, and raising awareness of available local, statewide, and federal resources. 

The Pennsylvania DMVA can fund programs such as this largely thanks to the Veterans’ Trust Fund. The VTF provides grants to veteran advocates and charitable organizations that focus on supporting Pennsylvania’s veteran population and helping them overcome issues such as homelessness, mental health challenges, unemployment and more.  

Since O’Mara’s first term, she’s championed a measure to increase donations to the VTF. Her idea to raise contributions to the VTF when drivers renew their license from $3 to $5 annually and $6 to $10 biannually was signed into law two years ago as Act 55 of 2021. She has also served on the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee since 2019.  

“As the daughter and wife of veterans, ensuring that all Pennsylvania veterans have and can easily access all the resources available to them is so important to me in a deeply personal way,” O’Mara said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Governor’s Challenge Team and exploring how we can better provide for and take care of our commonwealth’s service members.” 

More information on the challenge team is available online: https://www.dmva.pa.gov/Veterans/SpecialInitiatives/Pages/SuicidePrevention.aspx.