AMVETS in Action

Tag: suicide prevention month

Suicide Prevention Month: #BeThere


Department of Veterans Affairs
Office of Public Affairs/Media Relations
Washington, DC 20420
Phone: (202) 461-7600

VA Highlights Initiatives to Prevent Veteran and Servicemember Suicide

WASHINGTON – Today marks the start of Suicide Prevention Month and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is asking for the entire nation’s help in reducing Veteran suicide. VA is calling on community leaders, supervisors, colleagues, friends, and family members to BeThere for Veterans and Service members starting with a simple act, which can play a pivotal role in preventing suicide.

“You don’t have to be a trained professional to support someone who may be going through a difficult time,” said Dr. Caitlin Thompson, Director of the VA Office of Suicide Prevention. “We want to let people know that things they do every day, like calling an old friend or checking in with a neighbor, are strong preventive factors for suicide because they help people feel less alone. That’s what this campaign is about – encouraging people to be there for each other.”

The campaign also highlights VA resources that are available to support Veterans and Servicemembers who are coping with mental health challenges or are at risk for suicide, and it encourages everyone to share these resources with someone in their life.

“We hope our Suicide Prevention Month efforts help educate people about the VA and community resources available nationwide,” said VA Under Secretary for Health David J. Shulkin, M.D. “We’re committed to working with experts and organizations across the country to identify ways we can help Veterans and Servicemembers get the care they deserve and to expand the network of mental health support.”

Veteran suicide data released by the VA Office of Suicide Prevention in early August 2016 serves as a foundation for informing and evaluating suicide prevention efforts inside the VA health care system and for developing lifesaving collaborations with community-based health care partners.

VA plans to host a series of roundtable discussions with key stakeholder groups in the coming months as part of its plan to develop a public health strategy for preventing Veteran suicide. In August, VA hosted its first roundtable discussion, “Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Business,” with corporate sector partners. In September, VA will host the Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Innovations event, which will bring together a community of experts from business, industry, academia, and government agencies to collaboratively identify solutions for reducing suicide rates among Veterans and Servicemembers. In addition, new programs such as REACH VET are being launched nationwide in September to identify Veterans in VHA care who may be vulnerable, in order to provide the care they need before a crisis occurs.

For more information about VA’s suicide prevention efforts:

Veterans’ Cycling Team Raises Suicide Prevention Awareness

By Shannon Collins | DoD News, Defense Media Activity

Norberto Roman, a former Army sergeant, front, rides along the Face of America bike route in Gettysburg, Pa., April 24, 2016. More than 150 disabled veteran cyclists and 600 able-bodied cyclists rode 110 miles from Arlington, Va. to Gettysburg over two days in honor of veterans and military members.
Norberto Roman, a former Army sergeant, front, rides along the Face of America bike route in Gettysburg, Pa., April 24, 2016. More than 150 disabled veteran cyclists and 600 able-bodied cyclists rode 110 miles from Arlington, Va. to Gettysburg over two days in honor of veterans and military members.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2016 — “Who are we? Rescue 22!” the Puerto Rican veteran shouts to his team of cyclists as they gather around the recumbent and hand cyclists who are wheelchair-bound for group photos before beginning the Face of America charity ride.

For retired Army Sgt. Norberto Roman, founding the Rescue 22 cycling team for the Face of America two-day, 110-mile bike ride from Arlington, Virginia, to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was about the fellowship and sense of family he receives from the group while they spread the importance of suicide prevention.

The Mission

The Face of America team consists of active-duty and veteran service members from all eras and is sponsored by the non-profit group, Rescue 22. The mission of Rescue 22 is to encourage veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to seek help through physical health and wellness programs, to mentor and provide encouragement in a veteran’s journey of rehabilitation.

“Our mission is to stop the suicides,” Roman said. “Our mission is to reach every veteran, to let them know that we are here, that they are not alone. We need to fix this. We want to raise awareness, and we want to stop this, whatever it takes. We want to stop the suicides.”

Roman, who served 12 years as a senior cargo specialist was medically retired due to PTSD and chronic bronchitis acquired during deployments to Iraq from 2003-2005. He said he takes this mission personally.

“I tried to commit suicide myself in Iraq, and I went through eight years of hell, through PTSD treatment, and I’m blessed to be here today,” he said. “I want to use not only my story but I want to use what I do. I’m a triathlete. I cycle, I swim, and I run. In my experience, it’s the best rehabilitation ever out there.”

Roman said he feels Suicide Prevention Month is crucial and he tries to promote the awareness throughout the year.

“Every month, every week, every day, suicide prevention is a huge deal,” he said. “This is a responsibility of everybody. This is the responsibility for military and for civilians. There are people out there suffering and taking their lives because of depression or anxiety. We all need to be involved in this, contacting our buddies, calling them over the phone, using social media, staying in touch.”

Teammates from All Eras

One way Roman keeps in touch with his battle buddies is events like Face of America, which also allows him to meet veterans from all eras. He said they’ve had veterans from the Vietnam era, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

“It doesn’t matter what era you are from, you can do this,” he said. “We have people with disability issues bigger than others as well but we start together and we finish together. We don’t leave anybody behind. It’s not about competing. It’s about finishing together as a family.”

Original Source: Veterans’ Cycling Team Raises Suicide Prevention Awareness