September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Across the nation -organizations, mental health advocates, survivors and community partners will take time to bring awareness and understanding on this difficult topic.
The men and women who have worn the cloth of our nation return from war with physical, mental, spiritual, and moral injuries. We must help them address these issues, and over time, heal from them. We must provide the community, and the healing, nurturing environment that serves as a place of both therapy and comfort. We at the VAPIHCS - actually our entire VA- must be that place that serves as the healing center for our Veterans and for their families. That is the way to make our commitment both important and relevant. As we meet the returning heroes who were a part of the chaos and hostility we call war we must be ever mindful of what we can do to help ameliorate and assuage their injuries.
First and foremost, we must be PRESENT. Being PRESENT means to be at the right place, at the right time, that is the time of need; with the ability to help in whatever way is necessary. This is a large task, but this is our duty and responsibility. It is our way to help and honor Veterans in every way that we can.
The theme of this September’s Suicide Prevention Month is “Take a Moment: REACH OUT.” A reminder to take time out of our day to check in with our Veterans and others around us. This is being PRESENT. Below are ways and information that we can use as we learn to be present to help our Veterans:
--Transitioning from the military. Leaving a job. Ending a relationship. Raising kids. Big life moments can be overwhelming. Veterans don’t have to go through this alone, they can take a moment to reach out and ask for help.
During Suicide Prevention Month, held in September, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) works to raise awareness of Veteran suicide prevention and empower Veterans to connect with the resources they need now to prevent suicide later.
Veterans are driven and resilient, but everyone needs help sometimes. Whether Veterans are looking for peer-to-peer support, clinical care, counseling, or something else, they can reach out in the following ways:
Call, text, or email a friend or family member to ask for support through a tough time. Veterans can find ways to get started on REACH.gov/SPM.
Connect with a fellow Veteran to talk about what they are going through.
Use these resources to find support through life challenges:
- VA Solid Start: Qualified Solid Start representatives will call Veterans three times in their first year of separation to walk them through the benefits available to them.
- MyVA411: Veterans, their families, and caregivers can call 1-800-MyVA411 (1-800-698-2411) to easily access information on VA benefits and services.
- Make the Connection: More than 600 Veterans and family members from across the country have shared their stories of strength and recovery. It only takes a few seconds to find a story Veterans can relate to. SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services: This tool, which is confidential and anonymous, allows people to search by ZIP code for local treatment facilities that focus on substance use/addiction and/or mental health issues.
- Self-Check Assessment: People cope with stressful situations in different ways. This confidential, anonymous risk assessment can show if stress and depression are affecting Veterans. National Call Center for Homeless Veterans: Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can get free, confidential support through the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans.
- Call or chat online 24 hours a day, seven days a week to reach trained counselors ready to help. Veterans don’t have to be registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care to contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans.
- VA also provides crisis resources to those who need them. If you or a Veteran you know is going through a crisis, contact the Veterans Crisis Line. This free, confidential resource connects Veterans or their loved ones to a real person specially trained to support Veterans during times of crisis. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Veterans don’t have to be enrolled in VA health care or registered with VA to use the Veterans Crisis Line. For more information and resources, visit REACH.gov’
Finally, many of us who are Veterans remember a saying that is common to all services; “We will leave no one behind.” I think that is as true today in my VA life as it was in my 30-year Navy career. We will always reach out to everyone in need and in every way possible, to help our shipmates know that they are honored, respected, and affirmed. This makes our commitment to our Veterans both real and personal, and it makes good on our nation’s promise to our Veterans for their sacrifices and service. What is that promise? It is stated clearly in the Mission Statement of the VA: “To care for those who shall have borne the battle, and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.”
Always demonstrating service to our Veterans and to our Nation.
One Team, One Ohana!
Adam M. Robinson, Jr., MD, MBA, CPE
Director, VA Pacific Islands Health Care System
VADM, MC, USN, (RET)
36th Surgeon General, USN
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