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VA to Host Health Suicide Prevention Event

IRON MOUNTAIN – The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center will be hosting presentations on suicide prevention and urgent mental health care for Veterans discharged under other than honorable conditions.  The presentations will be held on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, at 12 p.m. CDT in the Holman Room located in the basement of the VA Medical Center’s main building.  The VA Medical Center is located at 325 East H Street, Iron Mountain.

The presentations are coinciding with Suicide Prevention Month and are open to Veterans, their families, and the public.  No registration is required.

“Twenty Veterans on average commit suicide each day with fourteen of the twenty not receiving VA healthcare,” said Sharon Anastas, the medical center’s Suicide Prevention Coordinator and one of the presenters.

The VA cannot tackle this problem alone.  Suicide prevention is everyone’s business.

“We are doing these presentations because we at the VA believe it is important for us to partner with our Veterans, their families, community organizations, and the public to reach those Veterans who need help and do not realize the services they need are close by,” said Anastas.

Suicide prevention is the VA’s top clinical priority and one of the reasons VA recently lifted restrictions on providing urgent mental health care for those Veterans discharged under than honorable conditions, estimated at a little more than five hundred thousand Veterans.  A discharge for other than honorable conditions typically prevents Veterans from receiving VA healthcare.

“The suicide rate among Veterans who do not use VA care is increasing at a significantly greater rate than that among Veterans who do use VA care,” said Dr. Elizabeth Stanczak, Chief, Behavioral Health Service at the medical center and another presenter.

“VA views the decision to provide immediate care as a moral and humanitarian obligation to these former service members who are otherwise not qualified for VA care. The focus is on saving lives,” she added.

Any questions can be directed to VA Public Affairs Officer Brad Nelson at 800-215-8262, extension 32001.

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