#BeThere: Committing yourself to prevent suicide among women Veterans


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When I came home from Iraq in 2004, little information and relatively few resources were available to help me reintegrate. And in addition to trying to navigate my own transition from combat to comfort, I was struggling to learn how to help my combat-wounded partner recover from a traumatic brain injury. Before long, I felt overwhelmed and hopeless. The then-prevalent Army message to “suck it up and drive on” made me too ashamed of looking weak to admit that I was considering suicide. Luckily, with support from friends, family, and VA, over time I successfully navigated the journey to my new normal.

My personal experience showed me how important both informal support from people in my personal network and formal support from mental health providers can be, and I am deeply committed to VA’s suicide prevention efforts. I will #BeThere to support Veterans – and I hope you will, too.

We are committing the Center for Women Veterans to:

  • Teach all family, friends, and caregivers about their role in preventing Veteran suicide.
  • Share advanced knowledge and innovation that will help prevent suicide.
  • Get to know Veterans who live in our communities.
  • Stop to listen and understand the challenges faced by Veterans.
  • Promote safe environments for Veterans, their families, loved ones and others.
  • Connect Veterans with people and resources that can address their needs and specific recovery goals.
  • Respond immediately to help if a Veteran is in crisis.
  • Support families, friends, providers, and all those affected by Veteran suicide.
  • Stand resolute in action so that none of our Nation’s Veterans is ever alone or without hope.
  • Develop specific actions, during the month of September, to reduce the incidence of suicide among Veterans.

Suicide is preventable

We can all help someone who may be at risk through simple actions that can make a big difference. Our actions can save a life.

To help you #BeThere, know what resources are available to Veterans in need:

  •  Learn more about how you can Be There for Veterans here.
  • Every VA Medical Center has a specially-trained suicide prevention coordinator or team.
  • We have also taken steps to ensure women Veterans are recognized and served based on their unique needs as women, not as just “another customer.” Women are prominently featured in Make the Connection, VA’s peer-to-peer platform, and VA has free services to help Veterans recover from Military Sexual Trauma (which a higher percent of women have experienced).
    • VA has devoted unprecedented resources to this issue, including an ongoing expansion of the Veterans Crisis Line, which is available to those in need by phone, chat, or text.

Author

Kayla Williams

- Kayla Williams is the director of VA's Center for Women Veterans.

Comments

  1. Crotalus    

    Too bad none of this applies to veterans that are Patient record Flagged by VA in VISN20 where suicide anything is criminalized and made fun of by VA staff.

  2. Von M. Griggs-Laws    

    Mental and emotional support is needed just to navigate the beauracracy.of the delayed response of getting appointments and treatments.

  3. Evelyn Ramos    

    Please tell this to the Chesapeake, VA CBOC doctors, SW and other providers. I visited on Wedsnesday 10/4, from out of state (PR) needing to be seen. I was taken into a Conf Room, not a patient room, no triage, no vitals, no formal referral within VA, no info on external providers that could help me and they let me walk out to my own resourcefulness to get the care that VA should’ve provided. I called for the Director on Thursday 10/5and was told I needed to go thru the Patient Advocate, where I had to leave a message. Today Friday 10/6, 10:00am no call back yet. So I think I’ll contact the VA IG ASAP so someone can take action on the type of service that is being offered to veterans seeking care.

  4. Marian smith-TURNER    

    I am a vet and have been seeing my counsoler for over a year, 6 months ago my husband who is also military, currently full time Oregon guard assaulted me and I after all the court stuff all he has to do is A/A, no couples counseling and no military action for him, you would think they would want to be there for both of us to help both of us?

  5. Jacked Up    

    Having the resources is one thing; being a combat veteran who is able to get to them? or even have the VA call you back after multiple attempts? now that is what is needed. the EHealthy Vet is not a method to converse with one’s PCP; they don’t respond. Sliced on and forgotten. That is what the VA left me.

  6. liz    

    I too received Denial for NonVA Mental Health after suffering Sexual Assault/harassment at the VA Livermore Division. I cannot enter the facility due to resurfaced MST PTSD. VA did nothing to protect me against this incident. This was also sugar coated, no Official Incident report filed by Instructor. Letter to Medical Director only succeeded in labeling me as “uncooperative.”No one returns phone calls as promised. There is no accountability, no transparency regardless of VA Secretary, Dr. Shulkin’s claims. Why can’t the VA Hotline get information(855) 948-2311 -Not VA OIG, they only get involved when Veteran’s Die and it becomes a Media issue. Patient Advocates can do nothing. Women’s Health Clinic does not return phone calls. Even Primary Care VA doctors repeated requests for helping patients, as myself, are blocked, denied by Bureaucratic Administrators that come together with “A Plan” most of whom have never met me, but are swift to defend their actions as being able to Accommodate my needs. Their suggestion, return to the Very clinic where incident occurred or transfer to a New VA Facility-1 is 40 miles away, the other 37 miles away; involving greater than a 5 hour Paratransportation commute. Contacting Dr. Shulkin’s office does Nothing! He too only responds to Media Attention, as when Veteran’s die.

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