By News Staff | Posted: Fri 2:29 PM, Dec 27, 2019 | Updated: Fri 5:48 PM, Dec 27, 2019
RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — The University of Virginia Medical Center is participating in Governor Ralph Northam’s new pilot program that he announced on Friday to help with suicide prevention and close the gaps in access to care for service members, veterans and their families (SMVF).
The Virginia Identify, Screen and Refer (VISR) Pilot will enhance efforts to recognize these individuals, screen them for suicide risk and connect them to services, according to a press release.
“As an Army veteran, I know firsthand the challenges that our service members may face while on active duty, in their transition to civilian life, and beyond,” said Northam. “That’s why I’ve made it a priority to ensure Virginia is equipped to provide quality behavioral health and supports, and that our veterans have access to them. This pilot program will help save lives, and it will help service providers better understand the needs of service members, veterans, and their families.”
The release stated the program will enhance cultural awareness and communication between military-related and civilian health care providers, increase awareness in the community about how many individuals they would be serving and resources available to them as well as reducing gaps in community programs.
“Stigma around behavioral health keeps many service members and veterans from seeking care in federal treatment systems,” said Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins. “State and community agencies are critical to prevent and end suicide among members of the military and veterans.”
Northam’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide team is working with volunteer groups of agencies.
These partners have committed to identifying individuals who might be at risk of committing suicide, train staff to understand military culture and the best practices for suicide prevention, and connect individuals to military and veteran community resources like the Veteran Affairs.
Virginia’s interagency team trained more than 500 community service providers in military cultural competency and suicide prevention, according to the release.
“It is essential for local agencies to be a part of this mission,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, MD. “Approximately 70 percent of veterans who die by suicide were not connected to VA care at the time of their deaths. This program will help build infrastructure to serve our military and veteran citizens and gather data on what resources we will need to sustain these essential services.”
Northam announced in January that Virginia was one of the seven states to participate in the inaugural Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among SMVF and the pilot program would run through September 2020, the release stated.
Members currently serving in the military, veterans and family members who are in crisis, having thoughts of suicide, or know someone in crisis can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. Veterans and caregivers can press one for confidential support 24 hours a day and seven days a week, every day of the year.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
If you or a Veteran you know is suffering from PTSD, Anxiety, Loneliness or Depression, you are not alone.
The – Minds At War – Crisis Support Helpline Number is open 24/7 and a First Responder is on call at all times.
- 0800 031 4368
You can also ring this same number during normal hours and seek advice, support and guidance.