The Michigan Department of Military and Veteran Affairs (MVAA) held their inaugural Michigan Military & Veterans Gala Nov. 6 and awarded a VISN 10 employee as VA Employee of the Year.
Tara Consolino, VISN 10 Suicide Prevention Program Manager, has worked for the VA for more than a decade, starting in the Detroit VA in 2008 as a psychotherapist with the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Clinical Team.
Consolino was named recipient of the award after an independent panel of judges selected her. Though not a Veteran herself, she grew up in a military family and after starting her career with the VA, found her work with Veterans “life-changing.”
“Had I not worked with such inspiring personnel at the Detroit [VA], I’m not certain I would have found and followed my passion.”
She pursued a doctorate after spending time in the Detroit VA, with a large part of her research focusing on community-based research practices. This cooperative effort with community organizations drives her today and is highlighted through efforts such as her role and participation in efforts such as the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and their Families.
“Collaboration is key to [suicide] prevention. There are so many essential organizations collaborating in our services to Veterans and there is always room for more at our table,” Consolino said. “Together with all our supports, stakeholders and Veterans, we have examined the needs of the State of Michigan, designed and implemented sustainable, cost-effective initiatives and, ultimately, save lives.”
Her current position drives this collaboration as she assures suicide prevention practices are consistent and cohesive across each of the VISN 10 medical centers throughout Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. These partnerships work together to prioritize communication across stakeholders and environments of care to address the issue of Veteran suicides.
“On behalf of the Network Director, I would like to congratulate Tara as the recipient of the Michigan Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, VA Employee of the Year Award,” said Ronald Stertzbach, VISN 10 Deputy Network Director. “Recognition of her dedicated service to our Veterans and to the mission of the VA is to be commended.”
In attendance at the ceremony representing the VA was Mr. Raphael Chavez-Fernandez, Deputy Assistant Secretary for VA’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Ms. Consolino was presented the award by Zaneta Adams, Director of the MVAA.
“Suicide prevention is everybody’s business,” added Consolino. To learn more, Veterans, stakeholders and providers should contact their local Suicide Prevention Coordinator.