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Going the Extra Mile: Erie VA Police Receive I CARE Award for Helping a Veteran in Crisis

Officers and Erie VA Leadership
(l to r) Associate Medical Center Director Rickey Harris, Chief of Police Kevin Kleckner, Police Dispatcher John Semple, Police Officer Dominick Lisek, Deputy Chief Brian Copley, Police Officer Adel Sulejmanovic, Police Officer Matthew Cherry, Medical Center Director John Gennaro.

The Erie VAMC is pleased to announce the recipients of the VISN 4 network director’s quarterly I CARE award which recognizes employees who not only demonstrate our I CARE values, but who go the extra mile to live by our I CARE ideals.

Our mission as the Department of Veterans Affairs is to care for those who served and for their families, caregivers and survivors. VA Core Values describe how VA will accomplish its mission and inform every interaction with our customers. These Core Values are: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence — better known as “I CARE.”

Erie VA Police Officers Adel Sulejmanovic, Dominick Lisek, and Police Dispatcher John Semple exemplified our I CARE values by going above and beyond when helping a Veteran in crisis on the Erie VA campus.

Last year, Erie VA Police received a call from the Veterans Crisis Line. VA Police Officer Sulejmanovic answered the phone and spoke with the operator who stated there was a Veteran with suicidal ideation sitting in a vehicle in the north parking lot. Officers Dominick Lisek and Adel Sulejmanovic quickly responded and located the vehicle. They observed an individual matching the description lying on a reclined driver side seat. They approached the Veteran and attempted to start a dialogue.  

Initially, the Veteran refused to speak, was visibly upset, and she began to hit her head on the steering wheel. Officers persisted and were able to stop the Veteran from harming herself, and she began to interact with the officers. She was from out of town and was only here because her sister had recently passed away. She further stated she was very distraught by this and other family issues, and she wanted to kill herself by driving into Lake Erie.  She admitted to experiencing suicidal ideation in the past and was not currently taking her prescribed medications.   

The officers continued to talk with her and eventually convinced her to seek assistance in the urgent care center. The officers accompanied her into the facility where she was admitted and transferred to a higher level of care. The actions of Officers Lisek and Sulejmanovic prevented a potential loss of life.

The VA's phrase, "Because I CARE I Will..." is a call to action. A call to do everything we can, every day, to improve the lives of Veterans and others we serve. Thank you to the Erie VA Police for living out this call to action at our facility!