For Immediate Release
Contact: John Hoellwarth
National Communications Director
AMVETS (American Veterans)
Orlando, Florida, Aug. 8, 2018 – American Veterans (AMVETS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) signed a Memorandum of Agreement in furtherance of their ongoing efforts to eliminate risk factors that contribute to veteran suicide and establish programs and practices that offer at-risk veterans the interventions necessary to avert potential suicide risk.
The agreement enhances cooperation between the AMVETS HEAL Program and the VA, through the VHA Office of Suicide Prevention. Together, AMVETS and the VA will identify and eliminate the barriers veterans face in accessing healthcare, enroll more at-risk veterans into the VA healthcare system, and providing training for those who work with veterans so that intervention begins once red flags are identified. The agreement also outlines terms under which the VA can refer veterans for services to the HEAL Program and vice versa.
“Suicide prevention remains VA’s top clinical priority, and I’m pleased to join with AMVETS and other partners to do all we can to help our Veterans in need,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “As I’ve said before, it requires a focused, national approach to engage with all Veterans whether or not they receive care in the VA.”
The partnership follows a January 2018 executive order signed by President Donald Trump that directed the VA, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security to collaborate in providing seamless access to mental health care and suicide prevention resources for veterans who have recently separated from military service.
“AMVETS has long championed access to VA benefits and career assistance for veterans,” said Joseph Chenelly, AMVETS National Executive Director. “But a good job and benefits alone won’t sustain your life. Timely access to quality healthcare will, which is why we launched the HEAL Program and will now partner with the VA to heal as many of our veterans as possible.”
AMVETS hired a team of clinical experts with experience in eliminating barriers to access in healthcare for veterans nationwide. HEAL, which stands for healthcare, evaluation, advocacy, legislation, encompasses all necessary steps the team will take to intervene directly on behalf of veterans, service members, families, and caregivers to reduce veteran suicide, unemployment, homelessness, and hopelessness. The support services can be accessed via the toll-free 1-833 VET-HEAL (1-833-838-4325) or email VETHEAL@amvets.org.
Veterans in crisis or having thoughts of suicide — and those who know a Veteran in crisis — should call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or text to 838255.
AMVETS is the nation’s largest and oldest Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization that is open to and fights for all veterans who served honorably, including reservists & guardsmen. AMVETS has been a nonpartisan advocate for veterans and their families for more than 70 years. amvets.org