On the final day of the 2019 VA/DoD Suicide Prevention Conference, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie called upon all Americans to work together to prevent suicide among service members and Veterans.
Wilkie’s professional role is to serve our nation’s Veterans. The secretary also has a deep personal connection to the unique sacrifices military members make every day. He is the son of an Army artillery commander and a Veteran himself. Because of this, Wilkie has a sound understanding of the role everyone can play in preventing service member and Veteran suicide.
“America is best when it takes care of those who have taken care of America,” Wilkie said. He addressed conference participants, and all Americans, when illustrating the responsibility everyone has.
“If we do not focus on [suicide prevention]…we will be doing a disservice to those Veterans we care for, and a disservice to the memories of those millions who have come before,” he said. “The most definitive answer that we can give to our fellow Americans and to our Veterans, is that this is a task that we will all conquer together.”
Suicide Prevention Month
Wilkie concluded his visit to Nashville by reminding participants that September is Suicide Prevention Month. The month is an opportunity for Americans to ask themselves how they can Be There for a Veteran.
This September, VA is promoting the #BeThere campaign to raise awareness about suicide prevention. The campaign highlights resources for service members, Veterans, and their loved ones. In September, and all year, simple actions can make a large impact in saving a life. These include sending a text to check in with a Veteran, asking a Veteran to meet for coffee, or organizing an event to bring people together. All of these are examples to show caring toward Veterans.
Each action taken helps people know they belong. Americans can come together to prevent suicide. For more information about Suicide Prevention Month and ideas for how to #BeThere, visit BeThereForVeterans.com.
For updates from this year’s VA/DoD Suicide Prevention Conference, follow @VeteransHealth on Twitter and Facebook.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.