Falls Church, VA – Dominion Hospital recently joined more than 40 community organizations and state agencies to help prevent suicide and eliminate gaps in access to care for military service members, veterans, and their families (SMVF).
The Virginia Identify, Screen, and Refer Pilot will enhance the Commonwealth’s efforts to recognize these individuals, screen for suicide risk, and connect them to services. The pilot is part of Governor Ralph Northam’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide, which Virginia joined along with Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, and Texas. The pilot program will run through September 2020.
The program will address the following issues, among others:
- Cultural Competency:Enhancing cultural awareness and communication between military-related and civilian healthcare providers. Only 8 percent of behavioral health providers who are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or TRICARE medical systems report having high military cultural competency, according to a RAND report.
- Education:Increasing awareness among community providers about the number of SMVF they are serving and the resources available to them.
- Efficiency:Reducing duplicative efforts and gaps in community programs and services resulting from a lack of collaboration.
The Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide team is working with a diverse group of agencies, including Dominion Hospital, who are voluntarily stepping up without additional resources. These partners have committed to identify SMVF more accurately and reliably, train staff in military culture and suicide prevention best practices, and connect individuals to military- and veteran-specific community resources such as the VA.
“We are proud to partner with Governor Northam and the coalition of organizations that have joined forces to provide needed resources to our valued service members and their families,” said Lee Higginbotham, Chief Executive Officer at Dominion Hospital. “We believe this pilot program will make a significant impact in preventing suicide and helping those in need.”
Since the inception of Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among SMVF earlier this year, Virginia’s interagency team has trained more than 500 community services providers in military cultural competency and suicide prevention, hosting six statewide Military Culture and Suicide Prevention Summits. The team also hosted two regional planning sessions focused on closing access to behavioral healthcare gaps for SMVF.
Military service members, veterans, and family members who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide—and those who know someone in crisis—can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (Veterans and caregivers, press 1) for confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
Local resources are also available at Dominion Hospital. First Step Counselors can provide a free, confidential and immediate mental health assessment by calling (703) 538-2872 at any time.