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Eastern Oklahoma VA creates Mental Health Evaluation Team to combat Suicide Prevention


March 22, 2022

Muskogee , OK — Recent data shows that 17 veterans per day die by suicide with 11 of those Veterans not connected to VA care.

While VA has made great strides in working to reduce the number of Veteran suicides through the Veterans Crisis Hotline, expanding same-day mental health appointments, and hiring additional clinicians, one critical element is overlooked: working with community partners to reach Veterans experiencing mental health crises in the community.

The Veterans Mental Health Evaluation Team (VMET) deploys a VA Police Officer and licensed mental health clinician to respond with local law enforcement to:

  1. Respond to Veterans in crisis
  2. Conduct welfare checks
  3. Provide follow-up calls and visits

VMET notifies the local police department when contacting a Veteran in person and updates local authorities on the outcome of each encounter. For high-risk calls, VMET coordinates with local law enforcement to provide safe care.

Pairing a licensed mental health clinician and VA Police decreases Veteran anxiety throughout the process and provides an opportunity to link Veterans to appropriate services or treatment.

“Suicide is not just a mental health issue,” said Andrea Simkins, VMET Social Worker. “Poverty, homelessness, physical health conditions, and loneliness can all contribute to thoughts of hopelessness and suicidal ideations. By partnering with the community, we can reach the Veteran where they are at and provide a sense of hope and understanding while guiding them through the process of getting connected with VA services.”

EOVAHCS wants to educate the community about this new endeavor. If your organization is interested in learning more, please contact Cpt. Anthony Jones at 918-781-9760/ or Andrea Simkins at 918-348-2568/

Media contacts

Nita McClellan, Communications director


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