VA releases Request for Information, seeks strategies for ways to end Veteran suicide


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Suicide, a major public health concern that affects everyone, takes the lives of an estimated 45,000 Americans–including 6,000 Veterans–each year. To combat Veteran suicide, President Donald J. Trump recently signed an executive order (EO) titled “National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Suicide” (PREVENTS), directing the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council to co-chair and create an interagency task force to develop a plan implementing a road map for the prevention of Veteran suicide at the national and community level.

As a result, the task force is releasing a Request for Information (RFI) to gather feedback on how to improve research and the use of research to radically reduce Veteran suicide. Through this RFI, and to ensure the broadest stakeholder input in the development of the national research strategy, VA is seeking input on ways to increase knowledge about factors influencing suicidal behaviors and ways to prevent suicide; inform the development of a robust and forward-looking research agenda; coordinate relevant research efforts across the Nation; and measure progress on these efforts. The public input provided in response to this RFI will inform the Veteran wellness, empowerment and suicide prevention task force, who will develop and implement the national research strategy.

“Veteran suicide requires an all-hands on-deck approach to preserve the lives of our Veterans who have served our country,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

“This is a call to action. In order to decrease the rate of Veteran suicide, we need to engage our local and community partners in addition to leveraging the resources of the departments.”

To advance the president’s vision, the Office of Science and Technology, Executive Office of the President and VA will lead the development of the national research strategy to improve coordination, monitoring, benchmarking and execution of public- and private-sector research related to the factors that contribute to Veteran suicide.

All public comments regarding the RFI are welcome and should be submitted by August 5, 2019, to ensure they are considered in the national research strategy. Responses may be submitted online at https://www.research.va.gov/PREVENTS/.


A former U.S. Army National Guardsman with more than 14 years of government service, Tatjana Christian is a public affairs officer in VA’s Office of Media Relations, aligned under the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Author

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Comments

  1. James Ford    

    IMO, the providers and staff are focused on appearances rather than effectively reaching most industry medical goals, to include this one. VA Transition Assistance folks, old vet volunteers, and Suicide Prevention number is where it’s at. The very goal is nonsensical and clearly shows it’s disregard for understanding…
    Most DoD med troops are shunned by ops or mission oriented career fields, due to their clear misunderstanding as to what it means to be in the military; in-field docs, combat medics, JPs, Medevacs, and frontline trauma centers excluded. Firstline supervisors are the most effective means to impact. However, you grow up in a world of suck it up, so they reenforce the suck it up. Those who see the doc get their statuses pulled from monitoring programs. Everyone knows that going to the doc pulls you off status. This reminds you of the very real risk to your career/promotion, which may halt/end it and will get you disarmed. Culturely, we would openly show disgust for those who dropped status.
    What makes anyone think the DoD med. core or VHA, who can barely speak the same language and can’t relate, that they can chisel away when the wall/fear is so resolute? It is easier to tape up a broken hand, finger, or foot, sweat through a fever, take an OTC vitamin M or even do other things than deal with their crap. It is a BURDEN to speak to providers/staff, VA or DoD.
    IMO transtioning out of the military is a critical time to make contact for suicide prevention of vets. In short, transitioning is just not fun. Transitioning from the military culture is like trading one pain for another. One may spend 6 months to 2 years to get trained in their career fields; but, one may get 4 or 5 days of training how to be a civilian in normal society. The VA Transitioning Assistance folks can provide those life lines to vets.
    Fun fact, most VA Transisions Assistance folks are prohibited, by law, from going to military Transisions Assistance Programs. My TA program told me to go online or to just show up at a VA. I retired and showed, with my 214, to my local VA and told sorry but we can’t help you. I wondered around and after finding an old volunteer, he brought me to a DAV office. They should hire the old volunteer vet! It took a 5 month claim, then another three years later for me to see a VA Transisions Assistance Counselor. Oh, at another VISN +1000 miles away, in another state. I can’t be the only one. With this example what makes them remotely prepared to even approach such a goal?

    The providers and staff can’t relate to the patient population. The patient population was groomed to suck it up. The best thing going for them is old volunteers, the TA folks and that Vet Crisis number.

  2. William Nosek (ORDM)    

    Let me start by saying that I am not a clinician. I am a minister that does suicide prevention and crisis intervention for veterans. I am also a veteran who has severe PTSD, and someone who has met the definition of suicidal every day for more than a decade. I have also, in that time done endless research and gotten tremendous amounts of education on these issues alone. Both from the clinical, and veteran sides.

    On August 14th of this year I will be at 1,000 days since the last person that reached out to me for help ended up taking their own life.

    Since 2015 I have been telling the VA as well as clinicians how I manage, and how I help others so that they can mange to survive. But nobody wants to hear it because I am not a clinician. I am immediately discounted. Even in spite of the fact that I am the one that wrote the treatment and facility changes implemented by (and erroneously taken credit for) by James D. McLain. I am the only one that knows where the shortfalls are in those programming changes, in spite of the fact that they were mimicked by facilities across the nation due to only partial implementation. And I am one of only 3 outside the VA that knows that these updates were the result of the inpatient suicide of Cole Scheuler at the facility Mr. McLain was acting director of. I’m sure if you look into it you will see that I was there and saw it first hand.

    I am currently sitting on a 20 page start as to why veterans are taking their lives and what can be done to stop it. And being the only one in the country with a 0% suicide rate since 2016, I think I might have useful information. But it remains to be seen if there is any truth to the idea that it’s better to bury us than care for us. After all, some of the greatest breakthroughs in history came from the most unlikely of sources. Feel free to reach out to me………

    1. Val McLeod    

      Mr. Nosek, Thank you for your sacrifice and continued service. We are very interested in your valuable contribution to this critically important matter. Please connect with us: (redacted) Looking forward to hearing from you. #NowWeSeeYou #VetsLivesMatterNow

      1. William Nosek (ORDM)    

        Ma’am, I sent you an Email. Thank you. God Bless.

  3. Sharon Lynn    

    Does anyone from the VA even read these comments?

    My fiancé had a dirty urine from a pill that is prescribed to him by the VA. He is on a program and they kicked him off, just like that and now he is withdrawing and dealing with all the pain in his body with zero help. He has done so much better on the program for years. They don’t care if he kills himself, they don’t care about the veterans. I love him and I don’t want to see him in this desperate state of depression. This is how you treat your soldiers, that is just not fair to them.

  4. Darren Osborn    

    I think this is a big joke. I have PTSD and was being seen by the VA for 3 suicide attemps. They told me I make too much money and can’t see the Psych doctor from the VA. I think this is the exact thing President Trump is trying to help us get help for these issues????

  5. Terry L Nichols    

    Repetitive Behavior Cellular Regression® (RBCR) is a non-linear Q&A sequencing model that bypasses normal memory recall and helps the client find an amnesic type memory in early childhood that controls repetitive thought. All five senses are used to describe three memories without the story or history of the memory being told. The result is the client finds the lost memory and is able to neutralize the emotions tied to the memory and thus shutting off all other emotional memories repetitive effects.
    Evolutionary Healer LLC owns the RBCR and is a SDVOSB VIP CVE company.
    Thank you.

  6. Allen L Walker    

    Maybe stop taking what little money we have coming to us for BS reasons. You took my $262 monthly check from me for the last 2 years to repay separation pay from 1989 knowing I am unable to work. I finally get a tax return and you took another $800 from me for medicines knowing I live well below poverty . Thanks for all your improvements and false advertising.

  7. Emery W Tolbert    

    This and and all the other formats like it is a joke just to make it appear as if they really care, if anyone thinks the VA cares what we write and are going to consider anything we say as anything but trash from a bunch of disgruntled VETERANS then you are way too nieve. I have WRITTEN 2 letters to the President in two years and no replies to neither of them. I wrote one to the IGO about three weeks ago and am looking forward to a reply from them as they seam to be independent from all the political parties and more in line with we the people and the trut, the well being of the VET’s. I have suffered from many different issues at the Gainesville Hospital so that may be the reason Trump don’t want to get involved, just to many issues and time consuming to spend on one second class Veteran, non-service connected, just one vote, just one. member of we the. people.

  8. Bucky Allen    

    How about you start recognizing service dogs! My service dog has helped me 100 times more than all the medications the VA had given me. On my last appointment my physicist walked in seen my dog and was pissed went on a rant said he didn’t believe in service dogs but upped my meds before even taking to me

  9. Melissa Bobbitt    

    Walk-in Facilities open 24/7 for immediate access without going thru the appointment process, Manned with sufficient staff to greet, personally talk to each vet via person or phone, follow up calls and open line access. Staff trained specifically for the vets needs, making them feel wanted instead of a burden to the system, etc. Over medicating only adds to their issues.

  10. Ronald E Rytter    

    Being homeless, hungry and ill from what the veteran considers to have happened on active duty, whether it be physical or mental is the recipe for a veteran committing suicide. The claim procedure must be improved, I have claims going on 4 years and presently with 110,000 cases ahead of me to have claim reviewed by a judge, makes the words deny, deny and die are all to real.

  11. Charles    

    You are right. As a clinician, I have been told by clients that they feel way more relaxed and able to open up about their experiences and struggles. I do know from the research, that almost 70% of those experiencing PTSD, have had a traumatic event earlier in their life. This is where I start… just saying that all these under experienced clinicians they higher fresh out of school, is a waste of time and money. I am a retired soldier and proud to work with my brothers and sisters in my community, but the nearest VA in 2 hours away. I cant even get an interview…..

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Charles, please reach out to Darren and the VA Careers folks, here: https://www.vacareers.va.gov/

      Or on Facebook, here: https://www.facebook.com/vacareers/

  12. FREDDIE JOLE CALLOWAY    

    AGREED I’ve been fighting for 48 years and I was in for 33 years and it’s no better. And kid we are not weak matter of FACT I doubt if your even a Vet maybe a wantabe that’s all

  13. John Hoelzer    

    One huge thing to help fight the 22 a Day is to recognize that the use of a service dog thru cooperative training saves lives. Recognize and accept ADA guidelines. Pay for insurance and equipment for our service dogs.

  14. Martin Findley    

    Not reading all the other replies… sorry, just not in the mood. BUT, I will input my 2 cents worth as a disabled veteran. How about treating the problems veterans have, not the symptoms. If we are in pain, fix the issue causing the pain, not just over the counter pain meds. AND if the issue causing the pain can’t be fixed, how about giving us pain relievers that work, not tylenol. When a veteran states he started drinking again to help alleviate the problems with the pain since you took him/her off their meds because the rest of the world is abusing opioids, hear what we say! OH, and the most important one, CARE, how about some real empathy not this fake sh*t I hear all the time.

    And the civilians that say “Thank you for your service” to us veterans and don’t mean it, STOP saying it! sheesh!

  15. Gabriel Trent    

    Not giving veterans such a hard time with benefit compensation. So many veterans barely making ends meat and in constant pain. This does not help! Want to stop crisis fix your benefit compensation system along with various health care related issues.

  16. Timothy    

    Stop hiding our Military Records at the VA ST Louis Records Mismanagement Center Stupidvisor Brian Greene. I ain’t Mr Winter’s Niger guy. I ain’t prejudice. Stupidvisor Brian Greene sent me hundreds of documents one had his name on it. Mr Brian Greene was a medic in S. Korea 1990. 1/4th field artillery. My document was signed by him. The document read Treatment Failed. Cellulitis. Dated 1990. V. A. St Louis Records continues to illegally hide our records. One O. E. F. I. EF. Veteran on a web site was told that his military Record burned up in the great fire. W. T. F.

  17. Frank M.    

    Victor, I agree with you. Kevin must have been one of the extremely lucky ones that got good treatment and ratings. I have been battling the VA since I retired in 1999. The issue lies with the VA leadership. Most of the doctors, technicians and nurses that I have encountered have been good to me. Even the doctors that have evaluated me during ratings appointments have indicated that I would not have a problem with the rating or increase. Once the higher brass gets the notes they come up with reasons NOT to give you an increase or give you compensation. This seems to be more with the older vets (Vietnam) than newer vets. My uncle is a Vietnam vet and he walked though agent orange foliage in the mid 1960s and in now suffering from skin and diseases and all the VA tells him that it is probably a rash but refuse to send him to agent orange experts. The VA is an organization not to be trusted. It is like fighting the enemy again.

  18. DR JACK TAYLOR    

    SOMEONE IN AUTHORITY GIVE ME A CALL. MY IDEA SEEMS TO BE CATCHING ON AND MY DESIRE IS TO KEEP THE BALL ROLLING, NETWORKING. THE VA WANTS TO REDUCE TWO THINGS, “OPIOID DEPENDENCE,” AND “SUICIDE.” THERE IS A WAY TO DO THAT, SO CALL ME AND GET ON BOARD.
    DR JACK TAYLOR

  19. Ron Roden    

    I have an idea, spend more than 1% of the suicide prevention budget. Eleven months into FY2018, the VA only spent $57,000 of the $6.2 million allotted for suicide prevention. I would call that not even trying. https://time.com/5483823/veterans-affairs-suicide-prevention/

  20. Victor Sellers    

    Robert Elesky,
    You are right, but the VA already knows what you are saying, and has always known. VA Departments are not allowed to share information or communicate on your behalf. Only certain level authorities have that power and they will not share it, even in matters of life and death. Mitzie Marsh in St. Louis has no idea what I went through when I filed claims for the Tropical Diseases I had in Vietnam, the Agent Orange Ingestion in Bien Hoa and deeper in S. Vietnam, the parasitic diseases from the Mekong Delta, the malaria’s damage, the young doctors lack of ability or experience. The lack of communication is the main problem, and after getting the same answers that never answer anything, it’s time to end it all. The VA itself is the trigger, and it does not care. They do not keep promises. They break hearts, hide the evidence, ignore the truth, refuse the service connection they promised when we entered, and we are fools to believe that will change. At every level we are deceived and they do it intentionally. You nailed it. Management does not care, only the workers.

  21. Dwayne E Glanton    

    Robert Elesky is correct. Many times when I call for an appointment to visit a new doctor the appointment is made 30 days after the call. Nearly ALWAYS.

  22. Myron D Hutson    

    I am viet nam war vet who works for homeless vets (see msbos.org about gov council) and returning vets from their war. The biggest complaint is VA “teachers” have no military experience AND WILL NOT allow those in “class” to discuss their experiences in “class”. My problems were mostly helped when I talked privately with another viet nam vet when we both were attending Grad Univ and completed our Biochemistry M.S. Suggest VA use experienced educated Vets for “teachers”.

    1. john vanminos    

      My appointments to see a Doctor are 6 months. I’ve had one NP tell that knows more than any Doctor, even A NEUROSURGEON LIKE MY PERSONAL DR. I TOLD HE WAS AN IDIOT AND TOLD HIM MY WIFE IS A DOCTOR, WALKED OUT. MADE COMLAINT. NEXT ONEWAS AN ORIENTAL DR. THAT COULD NOT SPEAK ENGLISH, SHE WAS GONE A WEEK LATER. MY LAST ONE WAS A REAL ORIENTAL DOCTOR WHO SPOKE PERFECT ENGLISH.THE ONLY THING HE PRACTICED WAS, THAT HE WAS A ASSISTANT TO A DENTIST.. WTF. GOOD THING MY WIFE IS A DOCTOR AND CALMED ME DOWN.

  23. Chandra Das    

    Streamlining the disability compensation process would help. Many veterans take their lives before finishing the long process of application, rejection, appeal, years later Board with fair hearing. The so-called RAMP innovations are a joke.

  24. Kevin Ronin    

    Suicide is a human condition. The vet suicide rate closely follows our civilian counterparts.

    Most vet suicides are seniors, just as it is in the civilian population. The older the vet or civilian demographic, the higher the suicide rate.

    There is no “22 a day epidemic” once that number is put in perspective. How many vets are there? -Twenty million?

    Is suicide the act of an irrational mind? Is it the act of a healthy mind? It can be either.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/12/us/with-suicide-an-admiral-keeps-command-until-the-end.html?mtrref=www.google.com&gwh=A6E4CE06D4125640135196789BAB1714&gwt=pay

    1. Ron Roden    

      “Is suicide the act of an irrational mind? Is it the act of a healthy mind? It can be either.”

      I’m not exactly sure if you’ve ever been suicidal before, but in order to commit the act of suicide, you not only want to commit suicide but you also need to overcome the human natural instinct for survival. That would be totally impossible with a healthy mind.

    2. Don Vance    

      Kevin, I don’t know what lies you’ve been reading but the veteran suicide rate is double the civilian rate. You really should look at the rates of suicide not the number. The 22 a day is a false number anyway because it doesn’t include the veteran suicides in California, Texas, and Florida which have the largest veteran population.

  25. Robert Elesky    

    I can tell you how to fix it. Quit screwing with us at every level when we reach out for help. The VA screws vets around so bad that if I told you everything I had to endure with them you’re head would explode. One time I had to wait in the lobby in severe pain for nearly eight hours to get any pain meds. True story

    Your verification of 17x 16 is a classic example!!!!

    1. Kevin Ronin    

      Oh, maaaan… What a drama queen. Stop whining and being so weak. In the whole scheme of things, you’re in the minority.

      Most vets are very grateful for the work of the VA from medical care, to to enrolling in colleges and universities, to vocational rehab. The VA also leads the world in areas such as prosthesis developments.

      You couldn’t even handle the verification thing here. It makes me wonder if you and I have the same definition of “pain”.

      1. Victor Sellers    

        Kevin, you seem so judgmental for not knowing the man, or do you? You don’t know me I am sure, and I don’t know you, but when a vet reaches out for help it should be taken as serious as possible. I spent a month hospitalized in Vietnam, continued to deteriorate all the rest of my time after Vietnam with various blood diseases, heart problems, strokes, brain damage with lesions, abdominal tumors, parasites in the eyes and probably brain, had my immune system compromised, skin diseased with multiple cancers developing, liver abnormalities and pain, urinating blood in Vietnam and afterwards developing ED with enlarged prostate, and on and on. The Army found the organisms in my lungs but left it all with “undetermined organisms “ and no treatment. It has withheld my medical records to this day still, but did give me some of them in 2015, 44 years after fighting to get them. I was medivac’d out of Vietnam in 1971 and the VA refused service connection all my adult life, until 2015, and still refuse to hand over remaining medical records. Screwed with at every level is right for many. For others it’s thrown at them. A double standard is true.

    2. James D Roger's (Retired CSM)    

      I agree with what you are saying. It is the VA admin that is creating the problem. I have had some issues with this. The veterans need to be treated as they are someone instead of being talked down on.

Comments are closed.