OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma City VA Healthcare System hosted a summit on Thursday, focused on veteran’s mental health, recovery and suicide prevention.
“Our greatest resource is our veterans, because they took care of our country. So, it’s our job as a community to take care of them,” said Wade Vlosich, the Oklahoma City VA’s Medical Center Director. “We have a large rate of veteran suicide across the nation and so here in Oklahoma City, we really want to tackle that by getting these partners together and using the new availabilities that we have through law to meet those mental health demands.”
According to Vlosich, out of the 75,000 veterans they treat per year, about two thirds have some sort of mental health diagnosis.
“We’re really excited about what that new law can bring,” said Vlosich.
In a nutshell, it allows any veteran struggling with suicidal thoughts to go to the ER for care at no cost.
“VA will provide the treatment or cover the costs for treatment including transportation, inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days, and outpatient care for up to 90 days,” according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
The most recent data available shows the nationwide suicide rate among veterans is declining and credit is going to efforts like this.
“That really tells us that the positive things that we’re doing in the community… Those things are working,” said Leslie Franklin, the Community Engagement and Partnerships Coordinator for the Oklahoma City VA Suicide Prevention Team. “We want to keep powering through and keep seeing those numbers go down.”