Experts answer questions about the issues facing veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan

May 26, 2014

On May 21, The Washington Post hosted a community forum about the issues facing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, following the publication of the paper’s multi-part series “After the Wars.” The discussion continues below with responses to additional questions submitted at the event.

Q: Janet V.-- Are there any suicide prevention trainings in the D.C. area?  

A: Dr. Caitlin Thompson, Deputy Director in Suicide Prevention at the Department of Veteran Affairs--

VA Suicide Prevention Coordinators, the 300 local experts on suicide prevention with Veterans, provide the VA’s Operation SAVE training throughout the country.  Operation SAVE is training on how to act with care and compassion when you encounter an individual who might be suicidal.  If you are interested in this training, you can contact your local VA Suicide Prevention Coordinator.  The Veterans Crisis Line website has a resource locator where you can find your local Suicide Prevention Coordinator (as well as many other services).

 Also, the VA has developed a Community Provider Toolkit to help non-VA providers and community members best understand how to work with Veterans in a variety of contexts. Specifically, there is a Suicide Prevention “Mini-Clinic” which includes lots of information regarding education and resources on suicide prevention with Veterans.   

Q: Linda S.--I would like to know if they have any advice for family members of the veterans coping with PTSD in particular. 

A: Thomspon--The VA’s National Center for PTSD has a wonderful site dedicated to family members and friends of Veterans and others who may be coping with PTSD.  There are a lot of resources on this site.  

Another fantastic program is the VA’s “Coaching into Care.” As described on their website:  Coaching Into Care provides a “coaching” service for family and friends of Veterans who see that their Veteran needs help. Coaching involves helping the caller figure out how to motivate their Veteran to seek services. The service is free and provided by licensed clinical social workers and psychologists. The goal of the service is to help the Veteran and family members find the appropriate services in their community.  Family and friends can call (888) 823-7458 if they are interested in this service.

Finally, VA’s Make the Connection website is an extraordinary customizable resource with support, information, and solutions on issues that may affect Veterans, family members, and friends.  The specific section for family/ friends is here.  I can’t recommend this resource strongly enough and encourage everyone who is a Veteran or knows/loves a Veteran to visit this site.   

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