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Recently, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Dr. David Shulkin declared suicide prevention his top clinical priority. As part of his prevention effort, effective July 5, 2017, VA began offering veterans with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative military discharges, an estimated 500,000 veterans, access to the full array of VA services if they require emergency mental health treatment. Former service members may enter the system to use this benefit by visiting a VA emergency room or Vet Center or by calling the Veteran Crisis Line. If it is determined to be a mental health emergency, the veteran may qualify for up to 90 days of care, which can include inpatient, residential, and outpatient care. During this time, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), will work together to determine if the veteran’s mental health issue is related to military service, which would make the veteran eligible for continuing medical care. For more detailed information about this initiative, click here VA Fact Sheet.

The Government Accountability Office reviewed military documents of veterans with OTH discharges between 2011 and 2015, and found that over 13,000 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury received OTH discharges. According to the military’s policy, these factors should have been considered in the character of discharge decision, but were not. Prior to Secretary Shulkin’s change in policy, these veterans with OTH discharges generally lacked access to VA mental health care services.

Despite VA’s dedicated efforts to reduce veteran suicide, an average of 20 veterans per day take their own lives, 21 percent higher than non-veterans. In order to reduce this number VA established a crisis line and placed suicide prevention coordinator teams at every VA medical center. To date, the crisis line has answered 2.3 million calls, participated in 289,000 chats, replied to 55,000 texts, dispatched emergency services over 61,000 times, and provided over 376,000 referrals to VA suicide prevention coordinators. Most recently, the VA announced its efforts to train all its employees to recognize suicide warning signs to help ensure vulnerable veterans do not fall through the cracks. Recent independent assessments by Altarum and the RAND Corporation, found that the VA provides mental health and suicide prevention services that are superior to the private sector by as much as 30 percent across seven different performance indicators.
VA has made significant improvements in its mental health and suicide prevention services and the Department reports that veterans who choose VA are at lower risk for suicide. Unfortunately, many veterans do not elect to use VA, or they are ineligible to receive care. Secretary Shulkin noted that 70 percent of veterans who commit suicide are not regular VA patients. The most comprehensive study to date covering veteran suicide, published in July 2016, further demonstrates the increased risks for veterans who do not utilize VA services. This study found that since 2001, the rate of veterans using VA services who committed suicide increased by 5.4 percent, compared to an increase of 38.4 percent for those who did not use, or have access to, VA’s health care services. The statistics for female veterans are of particular concern. During the same time period, the rate of female veteran suicide decreased by 2.6 percent for VA users, but increased by 81.6 percent for women veterans who did not use VA services.

While more work is required to eliminate veteran suicide, this new policy to expand mental health care to eligible veterans with OTH military discharges is a step in the right direction. Secretary Shulkin stated, “we want these former service members to know there is someplace they can turn if they are facing a mental health emergency.”

Veterans in crisis should call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 (press 1), or text 838255.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in partnership with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is pleased to announce its inaugural Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families.  SAMHSA’s SMVF TA Center will facilitate the Mayor’s Challenge process, which includes an orientation meeting, a web-based preparation session, and the two-and-a-half-day policy academy in Washington, DC.  Policy academy participants will receive specialized technical assistance aimed at preventing suicide among services for service members, Veterans, and their families through the development of a targeted strategic action plan.

See Original Publication of Press Release on VA website>

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON– Today the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the inaugural Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among service members, Veterans and their families.

The goal of the Mayor’s Challenge is to eliminate suicide by using a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention.

“Of the 20 suicides a day that we reported last year, 14 were not under VA care,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “We are pleased to partner with SAMHSA to bring attention, education and support regarding suicide prevention to communities where our Veterans live.”

VA and SAMHSA will invite seven cities to participate in a policy academy process that up until now has been available only to states and territories. The cities will be invited based on Veteran population data, suicide prevalence rates and capacity of the city to lead the way in this first phase of the Mayor’s Challenge.

See SAMHSA Information>

The selected cities will be announced mid-December, once they have formally accepted nominations.

Teams from each of the seven cities will meet March 14-16, 2018, in Washington, D.C., to develop strategic action plans to implement in their communities. The teams will include collaborative groups of community, municipal, military and other stakeholders. VA will provide technical assistance to support local efforts and to document outcomes and share strategies with other municipalities.

Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use at SAMHSA, said, “We must act now to accelerate suicide prevention efforts at the local level, with communities embracing and supporting the health and well-being of our service members, Veterans and their families.”

See Dr. McCance-Katz’s Bio>

Cities interested in learning more about the Mayor’s Challenge, can submit a request for information form HERE

For more information on VA’s suicide prevention campaign>

For information on SAMHSA’s suicide prevention efforts >

Veterans in crisis or having thoughts of suicide — and those who know a Veteran in crisis — should call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.

Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or text to 838255.

Help The Veterans is sponsoring the Power Breath Meditation workshop in Delaware.

December 8th – 12th
Wilmington VA Hospital

It is free of charge for veterans and military members and is conducted by a national non-profit organization, Project Welcome Home Troops.

Check it out on Facebook

If you or anyone you know may benefit from this workshop, please sign up by contacting:

Leslye Moore
leslye.moore@pwht.org or
call (208) 409 7806

Download Flyer

Useful Links:
Recent Chicago Tribune article about the Project Welcome Home Troops
About the workshop

POC
Meera and Raghav Garg
Help The Veterans
Charter School of Wilmington

Help The Veterans: helptheveterans.org is a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible fund under Delaware Community Foundation
delcf.org

REGISTER TODAY!
Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)

ASIST is a two-day, intensive suicide intervention skills-training workshop
aimed at those who want to feel more comfortable, confident and competent in
helping to prevent the immediate risk of suicide. ASIST provides practical
training and is suitable for anyone in a caring role or working with
vulnerable people, from teenagers upwards.

Wednesday Nov 29-30, 2017
All workshops are 0830-1630 hrs.

Biden National Guard Reserve Center
1 Vavala Way (GPS use: 250 Airport Road)
New Castle, DE 19720

PROGRAM POC to register:
Mr. Ronald Andrews, CTR
Suicide Prevention Program Manager
302-326-7098
ronald.d.andrews2.ctr@mail.mil

Download Flyer

Operation: Tohidu® is an experiential and educational retreat designed for a growing population of warfighters living with post-traumatic stress, mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury, and other service-related traumas.

“Tohidu” is a Cherokee word meaning peace of mind, body, and spirit. At Operation: TohiduR retreats, veterans focus on confidence-building, outdoor activities, and group discussion in a relaxed, positive environment, learning proven techniques for self-management of symptoms, stressors, and responses.

Download Brochure

www.OperationTohidu.org

tohidu@melwood.org | 301-599-4550

Dear Veteran:

I am pleased to announce that beginning September 19, you will be able to receive the seasonal flu vaccine at the main campus of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wilmington, Delaware. The vaccine will also be available at one of the Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC) located in the following areas:  Dover and Georgetown, Delaware; Cape May, Northfield and Vineland, New Jersey.

In addition to our clinical locations, this year the VA has partnered with Walgreens to offer a regular dose flu vaccine for Veterans. If you chose to receive the regular dose vaccine at Walgreens, you will need to identify yourself as a Veteran using your Veteran Identification Card (VIC) so your electronic medical record can be updated.

The flu vaccination does not contain live virus and cannot give you the flu.  If you are severely allergic to eggs, do not get the vaccination.

  • Flu vaccinations are available during regularly scheduled appointments after September 19 or by visiting your primary care team during clinic hours.  Please note there may be a short wait if you do not have a scheduled appointment.
  • Walk-in flu vaccinations will be available at the medical center during the dates and times listed below.  For your convenience, there will be three (3) afternoon and evening clinics.

DATE

LOCATION

TIME

Sept. 18

Wilmington VAMC,
Auditorium, Ground Floor

8am – 12pm

Sept. 25

Wilmington VAMC,
Auditorium, Ground Floor

8am – 12pm
2pm –  6pm

Oct. 3

Wilmington VAMC,
Auditorium, Ground Floor

8am –  12pm

Oct. 5

Wilmington VAMC,
Auditorium, Ground Floor

8am – 12pm
2pm –  6pm

Oct. 16

Wilmington VAMC,
Auditorium, Ground Floor

8am – 12pm
2pm –  6pm

Oct. 24

Wilmington VAMC,
Auditorium, Ground Floor

8am – 12pm

If you live closer to a CBOC, beginning the week of September 18, flu vaccinations will be offered to enrolled Veterans during the hours listed below:

CBOC CLINIC

WEEK DAYS 

MORNING

AFTERNOON

Kent County CBOC
1198 S. Governors Ave., Dover, DE

FRI

N/A

1pm – 3:30pm

Sussex County CBOC
21748 Roth Avenue, Georgetown, DE

TUES and
FRI

7:30am – 8:30am

N/A

N/A

1pm – 3:30pm

Atlantic County CBOC
1909 New Road
Northfield, NJ

TUES and
FRI

10am –12pm

1pm – 3:30pm

Cape May County CBOC
1 Monro Avenue
Cape May, NJ

MON

1pm – 3:30pm

Call the clinic:
800-461-8262, 2850

Cumberland County CBOC
79 W. Landis Avenue
Vineland, NJ

WED and FRI

10am –12pm

1pm – 3:30pm

Please notify your primary care provider if you have already received your flu vaccination using My HealtheVet.  If you do not have secure messaging, complete and return the form on the back of this letter.  Thank you for choosing VA to receive your healthcare.  We want to continue to make quality care accessible and timely for Veterans.  Please take this opportunity to get vaccinated.

Sincerely,

VINCE KANE

Director

If you have received your flu vaccine elsewhere, please complete the form below and mail to:

Wilmington VA Medical Center
(Attn:  Flu Vaccine Letters)
1601 Kirkwood Highway
Wilmington, DE  19805

Name (please print):


Last four digits of your Social Security number:  


Date of Flu Vaccine:


Location:


Name of your VA Primary Care Provider:


VA Retail Immunization Care Coordination Program

During flu season, protecting your health with a flu shot is easier than ever — and as close as your local VA or neighborhood Walgreens! VA and Walgreens care about your health and are partnering to offer enrolled Veteran patients easy access to flu shots.

VA and Walgreens are national partners, providing no-cost flu shots to enrolled Veterans of the VA health care system. During the program, which runs from August 15, 2017 through March 31, 2018, enrolled Veteran patients nationwide have the option of getting their flu shot at any of Walgreens’ 8,200 locations in addition to their local VA health care facilities. No appointment is required; simply go to any Walgreens, tell the pharmacist you receive care at a VA facility and show your Veterans Identification Card and another form of photo ID.

Your immunization record will be updated electronically in your local VA electronic health record. Walgreens has the capability to electronically send vaccination information to the VA electronic health record. The VA-Walgreens national partnership is part of VA’s eHealth Exchange project. This national program ensured that many Veterans got their no-cost flu shot at their local Walgreens, satisfying their wellness reminder because they either found it more convenient or did not have a scheduled appointment at a local VA health care facility.

FIND OUT MORE >

Download Form

The mission of the Mental Health Association (MHA) in Delaware promotes improved mental well being for all individuals and families in Delaware through education, support, and advocacy.

See below for upcoming ASIST courses with MHA:

August 10-11
New Castle County

August 31-Sept 1
Kent County

October 5-6
New Castle

Nov 30-Dec 1
Sussex County

HOST OF CLASSES – AND POC:
Jennifer Smolowitz
Project Director for Suicide Prevention
Mental Health Association in Delaware
100 W. 10th Street, Suite 600
Wilmington, DE 19801-6604
302-654-6833
www.mhainde.org

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