“Our mission is to mobilize every level of American society to save the lives of our great Veterans and support our Veterans in need,” the president said.
Surrounded by Veterans service organizations, state and local Veteran leaders, and those who have lost a friend or family member to suicide – the president pledged his support.
“To every Veteran I want you to know that you have an entire nation of more than 300 million people behind you. You will never ever be forgotten, we are with you all the way,” the president said.
The executive order creates a new cabinet level task force co-chaired by VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. The task force will create a comprehensive public health road map that brings together local government along with private sector to improve the quality of life for our Veterans and turn the tide on the Veteran suicide crisis.
U.S. Navy Veteran Frank Larkin, who lost his son, U.S. Navy Veteran Ryan Larkin to suicide said “We need a holistic approach with a heightened sense of urgency to push scientific research.”
“We hear these stories consistently – and it takes the entire community to be able to do this,” said U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Thomas Winkle, director of the Arizona Coalition for Military Families.
The executive order calls for additional state and local community engagement to ensure resources are working together for collective impact.
“It is about pulling together the resources of the federal government, our states and localities our charities non- government organizations and coming together with a road map and resources to make sure we no longer have those 19,” said Wilkie.
VA’s Veterans Experience Office will support this executive order and supports the existing National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide by leveraging state-of-art best practices in customer service data, tools, technology and engagement.
The 153 Community Veterans Engagement Boards across the country serve as community integrators for state and local resources, allowing VA to listen and support local initiatives. These boards are actively involved in the BeConnected campaign created by the Arizona Coalition for Military Families. These efforts also include the OMHSP/SAMHSA Governors Challenge.
The White House / VA Hotline conducts warm-hand offs to the Veterans Crisis Line, and new contact relationship management software has been deployed to the crisis line to enhance response. The Veterans Signals survey allows Veterans to provide feedback, and is able to identify Veterans in crisis for direct crisis line assistance.
Seventy percent of those who die by suicide have not received or sought care from the VA in the previous two year, and so increasing access and awareness of VA’s care, benefits, and services is also critical.
Tools such as VA.gov, the VA Welcome Kit, and a unified knowledge management library across all VA contact centers and with state directors of departments of Veterans affairs increases access and referrals to VA services.
Veterans Experience Action Centers are being hosted around the country to provide local one-stop destinations to provide all VA and local resources available, including direct claims assistance and healthcare enrollment.
“I’ve said many times that the mission of the Department of Veterans Affairs is to remind our fellow citizens why they sleep soundly at night. They sleep soundly at night because of the sacrifices of a select number of their fellow Americans,” Wilkie said.