The Independence Fund on Monday announced a partnership with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (OMHSP) to aggressively combat the issue of Veteran suicide in the United States.
Suicide is a national public health issue and the 10th leading cause of death in the general population. More than 45,000 people die by suicide annually, including 6,000 Veterans. The suicide rate among Veterans in the 18-34 age bracket in particular continues to increase. But suicide is preventable – which is why The Independence Fund and VA are working together to prevent Veteran suicide.
“Isolation and inactivity are some of the many risk factors, all of which are the new enemies of post 9/11 Veterans,” said Sarah Verardo, Chief Executive Officer of The Independence Fund. “Engagement is the key. In partnership with the VA, we are launching OPERATION RESILIENCY to initially target specific military units with the highest suicide risks. Our mission is to provide mental health and educational training retreats for at-risk Veterans and their families and then progressively transition them into other programs, such as adaptive sports, in order for them to regain their independence and a new lease on life.”
“Our goal at VA is to prevent suicide among all 20 million Veterans nationwide – even those who do not, and may never, come to VA for care,” said Dr. Keita Franklin, Executive Director of Suicide Prevention with OMHSP. “To do that, we are working closely with important partners like The Independence Fund to expand our reach outside the facility walls, to deliver care and support to more at-risk Veterans.”
Many innovative programs and resources for Veteran suicide prevention have already been designed and developed by the VA. A critical component of OPERATION RESILIENCY will be to increase public awareness on the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide and the tools available to our nation’s heroes and their families.
“The issue is communication,” said Sam Johnson, Chief Programs Officer at The Independence Fund. “The Veterans Crisis Line, Coaching into Care, Make the Connection.net, and SAVE suicide prevention training are great resources. OPERATION RESILIENCY will take those resources directly to at-risk Veterans with laser-guided precision through retreats, training, and awareness under the umbrella of comradery with their follow service members.”
The Independence Fund is a 501c3, national Veterans Service Organization, serving the unmet needs of catastrophically wounded Veterans, Caregivers, and their families. Since 2007, they have delivered more than $60 million in direct support to wounded Veterans, their Caregivers, and families. Learn more at www.IndependenceFund.org.
Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a Veteran in crisis, can call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential crisis intervention and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1; send a text message to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.