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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 1, 2018
Contact Dick Carter at 302-245-0670
Delaware women veterans invited to participate in Women’s Service Monument
A public meeting about the Delaware Women’s Service Monument will be held in the Senate Hearing Room on the second floor of Legislative Hall, Dover, on Thursday, January 11, from 10 a.m. until noon.
Delaware’s women have served on the fields of war and at home in the First State, and in 2018 their sacrifices will be recognized with a new monument on the grounds of Legislative Hall, according to Dick Carter, chairman of the Delaware Heritage Commission.
The monument also will recognize those who call Delaware their home even though they weren’t born here. While other monuments have acknowledged women’s roles in Delaware history, there are none specifically dedicated to women veterans.
Between March 2003 and December 2017, the United States military suffered 6,930 deaths in the Middle East. Of those, 207 have been women, including Air Force Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki of New Castle, a 23-year-old explosives expert who died January 7, 2007, in Iraq while she and two others examined a car bomb.
The design will echo that of the state’s World War I commemorative, erected November 4 at the southwest corner of Legislative Hall and stand on the northwest corner of the capital building’s grounds. It will be highlighted with laser-etched images of real Delawareans.
The General Assembly and the Department of State are the lead agencies on the monument and gathering photos for inclusion on the monument but are hoping others will be found in photo albums or family memorabilia representative of all Delaware women.
The Heritage Commission has been working with the Delaware Public Archives and when the dedication takes place, the Heritage Commission will publish a commemorative booklet including many of the photos not used on the structure.
The monument can also can recognize women who never wore the uniform like those who worked at New Castle’s Bellanca Aircraft and five women killed in a March 1943 blast at the Milford Ordinance Company. Mr. Carter is hoping people will contribute photos and personal stories toward the monument project and what it stands for. “We want as much public input as possible,” he said.
Members of the Heritage Commission hope to have the design finalized by the end of January or early February, which includes selecting the six to eight photographs that will represent all Delaware women on the memorial.
Tentative plans are to dedicate the monument around Mother’s Day 2018. To contribute photographs and memorials, contact Dick Carter at 302-245-0670. Photographs and a brief synopsis of each individual can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Image files must be 300 dpi or higher. Photos may also be dropped off at Mr. Carter’s office in Legislative Hall. All originals will be returned.
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.
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.
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.”
Cities interested in learning more about the Mayor’s Challenge, can submit a request for information form HERE.
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.
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.
email@example.com | 301-599-4550
Sam Cannon had a dream to teach veterans his watchmaking skills to help give them purpose after serving. The Veteran Watchmaker Initiative held its first class this past Tuesday teaching veterans the knowledge of repairing time.
Jennifer Corbett/The News Journal
Click the image below to see the story.
Carrier to Classroom: transferring military skills into a career in education
He served as the top enlisted man on a 5,500 sailor nuclear powered aircraft carrier, serving as the key enlisted leader and manager for the ship’s captain. He would later build and lead his own charter school.
It wasn’t long after his 1968 high school graduation that Charles “Chuck” Baldwin walked into the Navy recruiter’s office.
Beginning with basic training at Great Lakes Naval Station near Chicago, the Navy taught him that initiative and willingness to learn translates to rank and greater responsibility. It’s a lesson held close to his heart during 25 years of service.
His journey up the chain of command to chief petty officer, master chief, command master chief of CVN 69 USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, and one of the finalist candidates for Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, is a testament to his leadership and management skills.
Fewer than two percent reach the Navy’s top enlisted rank. Only a small percentage of those reach leadership at the command level, and fewer still are considered for the highest enlisted role in the entire Navy. The Navy’s reliance on its chiefs was summed up in the September 2005 exhortation by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chief of Naval Operations, in the Navy Times, “Chiefs, Run the Navy.”
Still in his early 40s after a successful career, Baldwin looked forward to creating a second career on land. After leaving the Navy in 1993, his decision to continue teaching led to his hiring as an ROTC instructor, later serving as a public school principal.
Within 10 years he decided to build and lead his own school and served as commandant of Delaware’s first military affiliated public charter school, the Delaware Military Academy. Not in an existing building — but in a new, dedicated school, which required raising $12 million, establishing a curriculum and hiring instructors, many of whom were military veterans. Today the school is thriving with a long waiting list of applicants.
Baldwin later served as president of the Charter School of Wilmington, one of the first independently operated public schools in the United States, established in 1996 with a focus on mathematics and science until his retirement in 2013. He was most recently instrumental in the 2015 creation of the First State Military Academy in Clayton, Del., which is affiliated with the U.S. Marine Corps.
His book, based on his Navy and educational experience and a master’s degree in school leadership and instruction, is geared to the veteran wanting to become a classroom teacher, whether in the private or public sector. Its 10 Deckplate Leadership (DPL) lessons not only apply to schools but to the corporate world as well.
He also serves as a member of the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs and is a board member of the Friends of Delaware Veterans, Inc., the official fundraising organization of the Delaware Veterans Trust Fund. The Trust Fund was created to assist honorably-discharged veterans of all generations in financial emergency. It provides a one-time, hand up for veterans residing in Delaware.
In a remarkable continuation of his career-long leadership, Baldwin is donating the proceeds of “Carrier to Classroom,” to the Veterans Trust Fund.
Outstanding AmeriCorps opportunity for Military Members, Veterans or immediate military family members.
The next program begins on October 2, 2017 and we seeking out 15 members for this award winning program.
Working as a part of a team, you will perform a variety of conservation activities including: Trail Maintenance, Invasive Species identification and eradication, and park based service projects.
You will gain education, certifications, and hands on training in the natural resources field.
FBI fingerprint background investigation is required, provided by the program at no cost to participants. Must be 18 years of age or older.
Program term October 2, 2017 – August 31, 2018.
Positions available on teams located statewide.
- Stipend of $522.80 every two weeks
- Medical, Dental and Vision insurance
- Child care assistance available
- National Service Trust Education Award upon successful completion = $5,800
- Outstanding Training and job skills experience
- Admission to all Delaware State Parks
POC FOR QUESTIONS:
Karen Minner CIG, CPSI
Veterans Conservation Corps – AmeriCorps Program Director
Delaware State Parks
UPCOMING EVENT to consider attending, if you are:
1) Anyone representing a VSO, whether full time staff or even local volunteers.
2) Anyone from the business community with “Veteran” or “Military” “Affairs” in their job title. Also those from businesses that support the Veteran community whether it’s through hiring initiatives or fundraising/donations. Human Resource Managers or Owners/Executives.
3) Anyone representing local/state/federal governmental organizations that support Veterans. Or elected officials.
We see this event as part professional/leadership development and part networking or forum for collaboration amongst VSOs and Businesses. The speakers and moderated panel will discuss the evolving veteran landscape and actionable ideas and best practices that attendees can take back to their respective organizations.
SEE FLYER FOR FULL DETAILS. Please make sure to RSVP in the Eventbrite link and let me know if you have any questions!
POC FOR QUESTIONS:
Corey Mulholland, CPFA