The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded the VA Patient Safety Center for Inquiry Suicide Prevention Collaborative (PSCI-SPC) and their community partners, including the University of Colorado College of Nursing, for implementing programs to reduce suicide among thousands of Colorado military veterans, their families and survivors. The collaborative formed partnerships with public and private agencies to ensure veterans are able to access mental health treatment, housing, legal services, and other needs.
Recognized for Work Accomplished Through Partnerships
A high-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will present the award to the PSCI-SPC members during the virtual 2021 National Community Partnership Challenge Award Ceremony on August 19. The group is being recognized for its “extraordinary work accomplished through the partnerships.”
Bryann DeBeer, Ph.D., Director of the PSCI-SPC
“From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every one of you for your participation in this partnership,” said Bryann DeBeer, Ph.D., Director of the PSCI-SPC.
“I have truly been blown away by the meaningful impact it's had on the lives of veterans and their families. Thank you for your commitment and hard work to prevent suicide in veterans… I am so proud of everything that we have been able to accomplish together during an unprecedented year. I look forward to our continued collaboration.”
Community Partnerships Between the VA and Non-government Agencies
“It highlights successful partnerships between the Veterans Health Administration and non-government organizations,” said Mona Pearl Treyball, PhD, RN, CU Nursing Professor, Specialty Director of Veteran and Military Health Care academic programs and retired USAF Colonel.
“We have new clinical sites because of the relationships formed during the collaborative. It’s a matrix-type of resourcing where we can call on each other any time.”
Developing a Resource Guide
The collaborative also offers a resource guide database of resources of agencies that care for veterans. The resource guide was compiled with the help of the Veteran and Military Healthcare Area of Excellence at CU Nursing.
“As a veteran, a care provider and research scientist, I’m able to keep my passion alive by helping care for veterans in this collaborative. It means a lot to have the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledge our work and allow us to also contribute to the profession of nursing,” said CU Nursing Associate Professor Lori Trego, PhD, CNM, FAAN and retired Army Colonel.
The collaborative was developed by Dr. Bryann DeBeer and her colleagues in order to improve coordination of veteran suicide prevention between the VA and the community.
The collaborative also focuses on veterans who are not eligible for service benefits because they were dishonorably discharged, weren’t deployed for two years or didn’t meet other qualifications. Only eight million veterans out of 22 million are enrolled with the VA, according to the National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships. Also, 70% of veterans received additional health care from outside the Veterans Administration.
Helping Reduce Suicides Among Veterans
DeBeer also wanted to help drive down the suicide rate among veterans which was nearly 18 per day in 2018. That year, veteran suicides accounted for 14% of all suicides in the U.S. A report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found when veterans get some type of VA care, the rate drops 2.4%. Likewise, when veterans don’t get help, their suicide rate increases 2.5%,
Her personal experience of having several family members and friends serve in wars, combined with increasing veteran suicide, led DeBeer to create a community-based prevention and intervention effort.
“Once we lose someone to suicide, we can't do anything more. We’ve lost our opportunity to help them move into a place of recovery,” said DeBeer.
“So, I decided to work on that, and come to work every day and help preserve life. This is about life promotion. We are helping people have fulfilling lives while they may suffer from depression or trauma.”
The collaborative has enrolled 21 veterans into a program that combines brief cognitive behavioral therapy with intensive case management. The partnership has also helped more than 2,500 veterans living in the Denver Metro Area.
See full Press Release: National VA Award August 2021 PR 081821