A new initiative called Face the Fight aims to cut the veteran suicide rate in the United States by half by 2030, officials announced Thursday.

The veteran suicide rate in the U.S. is 1.5 times the rate within the general population and an estimated 120,000 veterans have died by suicide since 2001, according to veteran advocacy group Stop Soldier Suicide.

Face the Fight — backed with $25 million from the Reach Resilience foundation, $10 million from USAA and its foundation, and $6 million from the Humana Foundation — will fund a wide range of support in the coming years, including suicide prevention and training programs, clinical fellowships, veteran service organizations and other entities who work with veterans.

The USAA Foundation has already made some contributions through Face the Fight to groups like Stop Soldier Suicide and the Cohen Veterans Network, according to Roger Wildermuth, director of public relations for USAA.

The initial $41 million pool of funds is expected to grow, as Face the Fight has a long list of major corporations and organizations listed as members.

USAA enlisted experts — including from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Defense, RAND Corporation and various veteran service nonprofits — to help determine how best to make an impact with Face the Fight grants, according to a USAA press release.

“Our service members stand tall in the noble calling to serve others, and we need to stand with them for challenges they may face, including mental health and suicide,” Wayne Peacock, USAA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Through focused funding and work with experts, we believe Face the Fight will make a difference in raising awareness for veteran suicide prevention. And we invite others to join us in this fight.”

USAA, a San Antonio-based banking and insurance giant that was founded by Army officers, has a history of veteran philanthropy. It pledged $3.3 million over two years to help a local, state and federal effort that effectively eliminated veteran homelessness in San Antonio in 2016.

While veteran suicides have been trending down, it’s still one of the top issues the community faces, according to the Veterans Affairs’ 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.

Veteran suicides decreased in consecutive years in 2019 and 2020, “the biggest decrease in the suicide count and rate since 2001,” according to the report.

The Face the Fight website features sharable content to raise awareness of veteran suicide and mental health on social media.

“Together, we will break the silence around veteran suicide and spark a national conversation about military life, mental health and the need for our country to show up for our veterans and ensure that no one is left behind,” stated Sonya Medina Williams, president and CEO of Reach Resilience.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, then press 1 to reach veteran-specific help.

USAA is a financial supporter of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here.

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and mental health. She was the San Antonio Report's...