It's a staggering and heart-breaking statistic: Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives. Though an uncomfortable subject for many, it is one that we as a nation must urgently address before more lives are tragically lost.
The largest provider of veterans' health care in the nation, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is tackling the issue head on with new initiatives to increase access to mental health care and better understand the challenges our veterans coming home are faced with.
The VA this month announced a number of suicide-prevention initiatives including:
Allocating additional resources to the VA’s Suicide Prevention Program in order to raise its profile and strengthen current programs;
Enhance veterans’ access to mental health services by establishing three regional tele-mental health hubs. Work toward providing veterans with same-day evaluations and mental health services by the end of calendar year 2016;
Launch the ‘Coming Home from Afghanistan and Iraq’ study that will assess the impact of deployment and combat as it relates to suicide, mental health and well-being;
Front-line VA employees who work closely with veterans are critical to reducing the suicide rate of veterans. Some of these employees were spotlighted in a 2015 Oscar winning documentary about the suicide crisis line in Canandaigua, N.Y. Serving veterans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the employees are committed to assisting veterans in their darkest hours. The center receives about 22,000 calls a month from veterans and active-duty military members who have lost hope and are thinking about ending their lives.
The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.
Phone: 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1,
Click here to Chat online.
Send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support.
In addition, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, scheduling clerks, and many others save lives every day, healing the wounds of war that too often go unseen. We salute these dedicated public servants for keeping our nation's promise to veterans.