Reed Walker, Community Engagement and Partnerships Coordinator (CEPC) from the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center, explained to the council at its 19 July 2023 meeting that the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is interested in creating a Suicide Prevention Coalition in the Lehigh Valley towards achieving its clinical healthcare priority: preventing veteran suicide. Currently, there are a few such coalitions of varying vigor in the commonwealth. Yet, preventing military veteran suicide will require a full public health approach, combining community and clinical-based interventions, she said, for the VA cannot accomplish the mission alone.
Ms. Walker added that suicide is a public health challenge that causes far-reaching pain among individuals, families, and communities across the country, [but] suicide is also preventable; and emphasized that the the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), along with its stakeholders, partners, and communities nationwide, need to work together.
She discussed how in 2020 the VA created an operational plan called the Suicide Prevention 2.0 initiative (SP 2.0) and its various components being implemented over a six year period, important among them, community collaborations: “SP 2.0 aligns suicide prevention, intervention, and ‘postvention’ goals across clinical and community settings to reach and serve veterans … The VA supports the national goal of reducing the annual suicide rate in the U.S. by 20 percent by the year 2025 and is implementing a public health approach to achieve this mission.”
Finally, Ms. Walker explained “CEPCs [are to] establish new community coalitions for veteran suicide prevention, participate in and support the dissemination of the Together With Veterans Rural Suicide Prevention Program, support other existing coalitions, such as Governors/Mayor’s Challenges, who have missions aligned with VA’s Community Based Intervention for Suicide Prevention (CBI-SP) program, and provide much needed expansion [of] local Suicide Prevention Coordinators (SPCs) efforts and suicide prevention teams’ capacity to conduct outreach and education … CEPCs bring a new emphasis on public health planning, partnered and collaborative action, and effective community practice for suicide prevention.”
The briefing slides below provide more details and how to contact:
As of 19 July 2023