Union City Police Department commits to train all sworn officers on veteran symptoms of PTSD and distributes gun locks to community.
VA New Jersey Health Care System has partnered with The Union City Police Department to combat suicide together with veterans.
Nineteen percent of police officers are veterans, and officers are often the first responders when veterans are experiencing a crisis. Military members are more likely to have experienced multiple traumatic events than the general population. The Union City Police department has officers who understand the unique challenges had by veterans because some are veterans and active-duty military themselves.
"We want to be prepared to identify, support, and connect our veterans to end suicide. We are working on strategies together that fit our community. We feel empowered because this coalition with the VA New Jersey Health Care System allows us to create a prevention program that fits our needs", said Captain Anthony Facchini.
All sworn officers must complete a free training offered by Psych/Armor through the Training Division titled "Invisible Wounds at Home: Symptoms of PTSD" by May 16th, 2022. The course aims to educate family members and caregivers about Veterans who may be living with the symptoms of PTSD and to be aware of their symptoms. Detective Pastor, a veteran himself, recognizes the importance of increasing awareness throughout the force. He and Detective Rodriguez will help officers access the needed resources to be trained. Knowing that every officer will take this critical training is a reassuring accomplishment for Union City.
Along with this training, we are taking the initiative to create spaces in the community where resources exist; we want everyone to know help is available. Chief Nichelle D. Luster said, "all the resources and information will be available in Spanish and English. Language should never be a barrier to receiving suicide prevention resources and treatment."
"I am humbled to be a part of the program led by this great community," added Martha Rodriguez, Suicide Community Engagement and Partnership Coordinator at VANJHCS. "We will have gun locks available for free to all who need them. Access to lethal means increases the suicide risk for everyone living in the home. We know how a person attempts suicide impacts how fatal the injury will be. We will ensure the residents of Union City know of all the available resources in the VA and the community because they may need different types of care depending on their situation."
To learn more about VANJHCS or our efforts to prevent suicide in the community, visit the VA New Jersey Health Care System website.