VA offers Veterans new resources to safely store lethal means


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Firearms play a significant role in many Veterans’ lives, with nearly 50% of Veterans owning firearms. VA respects the importance of firearms for these Veterans and is dedicated to helping them learn about safe storage options.

Safe storage is an important part of VA’s comprehensive suicide prevention strategy. Research has shown that many suicidal crises are brief, so putting space between someone experiencing a crisis and a firearm — or other potentially lethal means, like prescription medication — can provide enough time for the crisis to pass before a tragedy occurs. In addition, safe storage can help protect a Veteran’s loved ones — including children and grandchildren — from accidents.

New resources to help Veterans understand lethal means safety

VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention recently released two resources to help Veterans and their loved ones understand the potentially lifesaving benefits of safely storing firearms and other potentially dangerous household items.

  1. The Reducing Firearm & Other Household Safety Risks for Veterans and Their Families brochure provides best practices for safely storing firearms and medications, along with advice for Veterans’ loved ones on how to talk to Veterans about safe storage.
  2. The Means Safety Messaging for Clinical Staff pocket card provides medical professionals with easily digestible information for talking with Veteran patients about safe storage. Clinicians looking for more information on speaking to Veteran patients can read the From Science to Practice review on how lethal means safety saves lives.

These resources are designed to help Veterans, their loved ones, and the supporting clinicians find the safe storage option that aligns with the Veteran’s values and priorities.

Safe and affordable solutions

VA’s partner organization, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, recommends several effective ways to safely secure firearms, including:

  • Cable locks
  • A lockbox
  • A gun safe

The following are safe storage recommendations to help Veterans prevent intentional or unintentional overdose:

  • Have a family member or friend help manage your medication dosages.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to limit the number of refills or the amount of medication prescribed.
  • Use a daily pill box to set aside pills for a week, and then lock the rest away.

Staying safe

While Veterans who may be at risk for suicide can take these steps themselves, we all have a role to play in empowering Veterans to stay safe. If you are concerned about a Veteran in your life, ask them directly whether they are thinking about suicide, encourage them to seek care, and start the conversation about safe firearm and medication storage.

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.

Reporters covering this issue can download VA’s Safe Messaging Best Practices fact sheet or visit www.ReportingOnSuicide.org for important guidance on how to communicate about suicide. 


About the author: Dr. Andrew Moon is the associate director for education and training in VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Watchdog    

    My father was a hunter, from WVA, I’ve had guns in my hands since I was 5-I’m 85, now, Had time as a uniformed police officer, keep a gun for home protection.

  2. Dennis Duffy    

    Wow, I am lucky then because I have had pretty good experience with the VA, I want to thank those who saved my life twice last year with 13 transfusions in a couple hours, the nurse who held my hand while I was dying and kept me from loosing it. I KNOW THESE PEOPLE CARE. Hey the VA is run by humans, humans are ,well Human. Some are jerks most are good people.

  3. Brett Earl Grenvall    

    I was sent to an outside doctor, because of my lower back pain that radiates down my legs. It is so intense that it will actually put me on my knees, whether I am ready or not. Anyways, the doctor they sent me to walked in the room with his laptop. In his broken Iranian accent, I did my homework after, he proceeded to pick up my medication bottles from the VA. He then ordered me to tell him where I was getting my Adderall from. I explained the prescriptions all came from the VA, and this is why I brought in the bottles themselves. Bear in mind, he still has not introduced himself or asked my issue. He then informed me that HE had access to everybody’s prescriptions, and that mine was not listed. Once again he DEMANDED that I tell him where I was getting the medication from, and what was I doing with it. I gave him the same answer as before. He proceeded to stand up, pick up his laptop, and walk out of the room saying that he would get to the bottom of it. The entire time he was there, he never said hello, goodbye, got to hell…..nothing. The nurse left the room dumbfounded, and returned with a specimen bottle. She stated I was being instructed by the doctor to give a urine specimen before anything else. I filled the cup, returned it to the nurse at the reception desk, and left the building. I immediately contacted the representative that had given me this doctor to go to. I explained how humiliating, and angry it made me being treated like this. I also explained that under no uncertain terms would I ever come back here. The next thing I know I am receiving a bill from this “doctor”, and I use the term very loosely, for the amount of over $600. The bill was for an office visit, doctor consult, and urinalysis. I contacted the representative again, and was told that he probably had billed the wrong address. The last time I sent the bill in, I was told the funds weren’t there to pay the bill at the time. Needless to say, it has gone against my credit now. This is the BEST thing that has happened to me through the VA system. How can you operate a medical / recovery hospital or service with bankers? PLEASE … The Veteran’s Benefits Association is there to assist the veteran in any way they can? Then why are they the individuals that are also responsible for hiring / contracting the individuals doing the C & P? I have read the guidelines for the C & P, and upfront they are ORDERED to disregard any idea that they are there to help the veteran at all. They have only one function, and that is to deny all claims. Please go in, and read for yourself. They are to disprove by showing the veteran as having :used false statements, malingering, over exaggeration, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and any other means that will look unfavorably on the veteran. Don’t get me wrong, because the final report states the reviewer did not go solely on the words of the C & P. I didn’t see any other statements besides the C & P, because they claim that being seen by the same doctor for too long reduces the validity. That because you see the same doctor for a number of years does not make the doctor familiar with your symptoms, but actually makes the doctor too compassionate towards the patient. I have been asked by every mental health, general health, and specialist as to why I am not receiving any disability. I have been asked I don’t know how many times why I even give a urinalysis, because of the medication I am on? This is fair? This is the VA’s idea of taking care of soldiers? I have not been able to hold a job in seven years. SEVEN DAMN YEARS!!!! I STILL PAY A CO-PAY, AND PRESCRIPTION CO-PAY!!! This isn’t worth it anymore. I am only a burden on my family. Obviously a burden on the system as well. I served in Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Sabre, Bosnia, and Croatia. Yet this barely out of high school, two year degree C & P idiot has the nerve to state that I must be exaggerating, she sees nowhere that I was in any combat, and states that she believes that nothing I say can be accepted as the truth. To hell with all of them. I know in my heart that every last one of these people will get what they deserve. I just wish I would still be around to watch it. Just another disgruntled veteran that will be dead soon enough. That was the VA won’t have to worry about me anymore. Thanks for nothing.

  4. Robert Ray McBride    

    The NRA has a whole lot of programs already in place for this. You guys should check them out.

  5. Patrick Jahnke    

    ? Is I got infection in my blood it settle L1 L2 lower back, it so pain full, this happen in oct. At times my back pains are so bad it’s hard to do simply things, picking up things, I wish I knew what I can do get help calm down those nerves , it just hard to enjoy life when pain hits.

  6. Curtis Evans    

    You are correct. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand. I get approve for surgery at an outside doctor then the cancel it. It happen five times to me. Call my representative for help it took them 5 months to get back to me. It was a power play from someone at the veterans administration here in hawaii. The kicker was the law that they (veteran administration use) was not effective until 5 June 2019. They cancel my appointments in April and May causing a delay of service. Having to fight for appointments is fun. Yea having fun. I change modules do to lack of care. VA cannot keep its doctors. And have a lack of them here in hawaii.

  7. John menchaca    

    I know what everyone saying ive had a parasite in my body n finally it got so bad the right doc came into emergency room n gave me the right meds thank god ,ladt time was calling police to hold me in psyc ward in audi murphy, when i put my claim in it came back they lost all my records so they gave a pension n now i filed again now they say theyve located my records what the hell?so what now ,n i also to top it off i got the parasite at a inpatient program lol,blaming it on my ptsd n scoeffective lol bunch of amateurs

  8. Kenny Holzemer    

    For the cost of recovery from an attempted suicide, or of a funeral, many trigger locks could be provided free of charge to those interested. The recommendation is good, but action speaks louder. Can the VA provide these locks?

  9. Nevin Little    

    Go ahead and put your pills in pill box then when you get pulled by some asshole cop they try to arrest you for drugs out of prescription bottle. It’s a felony too. I went through over an hour of roadside interrogation over a damn ibuprofen.

  10. Joshua Usher    

    Sweep the crappy neighbor hoods all over this country and take the guns from the shtbags who illegally bought them to kill innocent people.
    Just an article to point fingers at Veterans some more!

  11. Robert Andrews    

    Shotgun by my bed loaded ar 10 by my bed mag full .45 acp in night stand loaded. No kids in my house either. I work armed as a personal protection officer and private Investigator… anti gun lobbyist most likely contacted VA and said ” hey Veterans are likely armed what can we do to get veterans annoyed at the VA. (More than they already are)”

  12. Sean Stark    

    This is a bullsht opinion piece. Just because you’re a veteran doesn’t mean you need your guns locked up. I bet the same idiot that came up with this idea is for red flag laws.

  13. Kenny Smith    

    This is a real good way to show that veteran can deal with there gun in there hands. This is a real good story. For people to see that we can deal with it.my name is Kenny Smith I am a Vietnam veteran to.

  14. Tom pinto    

    The idea that a veteran’s firearms must be locked up is BS on toast. Crap published by an anti-gun lunatic. Just because a weapon is available does not mean a person is going to use it to harm themselves. Unless there are children around only a moron keeps an unloaded revolver in his house. Having survived a home invasion, had I not had a loaded gun I would be dead.

  15. Ernesto Sal    

    How we hold va medical center employees accountable for sub par care. How about we train providers to not be over 2.5 hours late to our appointments
    How about we address continuity of care.
    How about youd automatically refer us out to community if an appointment is 30 days out.
    How about fixing the rating process.
    How about looking at our educational benefits and the ridiculous red tape and mistakes that are made by the va…costing vets to “lose it” over ridiculous processes.

    Do a study on what really triggers veterans.
    Look in the mirror va!

    1. Jamie Grimes    

      Wow! You said a mouthful! We thank you!

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