tv Veterans Mental Health CSPAN March 6, 2018 10:19pm-10:58pm EST
[inaudible conversations] >> good morning everybody. i'd like to thank you all for coming in attending a press conference. i'm very excited today to announce and the partnership with the department of veterans affairs to address veterans mental health crisis. in just a moment i will bring up to the podium and that's commander marion holt but before i do i would just like to ask you guys when we get to the question and answer portion we have this wireless mic that we are going to pass around. please use it for the benefit of the audio for television cameras in the back. if you would be so kind as to turn off the ringers on your phone we will begin very shortly shortly. ladies and gentlemen it's my
pleasure to introduce you to embed its national commander miriam holds. >> good morning. ladies and gentlemen i would like to thank all of you for attending today's press conference. today m. vets is pleased and excited to partner with the va to announce a bold new program to confront the mental health crisis in our country by providing direct services to so many veterans who need access to the va mental health care. we are calling on our new program to heal which stands for health care, evaluation advocacy and legislation. a moment you'll get an opportunity to speak about the details of this new program with senior dha officials as of m.
vets chief medical aid executive that will lead our team. but first it's my honor to introduce the secretary of veterans affairs dr. david shulkin. [applause] >> good morning. i'm very pleased to be
here for this very special event. commander thank you for your leadership and a great job leading m. vets and sherman gillums thank you for being here. i think everybody knows that mental health and in particular suicide prevention is our top priority at the department that drew a -- veteran affairs. it's so important for us and it's these types of collaborations that will have the biggest impact. you know what the va we have done a lot of things this year to impact and reduce the number of veteran suicides so we can
expand on what discharges. if a new executive order that we will will give her present a plan this week to give every act of -- active servicemember mental health benefits. we have been using predictive analytics and expanded our veterans crisis line. we are expanding the number of mental health professionals best most importantly is to work with our partners and the outreach to veterans because we know mental health care saves lives and we can do more so this type of initiative is really important. i think every program that i know of that has been in government has to essential components suit and i think amvets got this right to the essential component number one is a good acronym and heal, i mean you know that is exactly
what this program is intended to do to heal our veterans so you've got that right and number two is picking the right people to lead your initiative since you got that right as well. what good leaders and people do is they get affected people to run their programs and show i can't think of anyone better to run it then sherman gillums. this is a man that lives the passion for fellow veterans. he tells the truth and sometimes i wish it wouldn't be so truthful but he is not going to let anything stop them from doing what's right and he is clearly the right person and like good leaders he picks good people to help lead the team. and land lana is exactly that type of person too.
this program which is run by amvets buddy in partnership with the va is something we really welcome. we need more of this and effective people talk effectively but effective organizations say the right thing but they act in this
case you have individuals and organizations not only talking the right way but act being. the political initiative is action to reduce veteran suicides and helping veterans who are in need. the helpline for case manager services in the town halls will do its part in this initiative is exactly what i think is on target partnering with the va so you can leverage our services to help veterans is exactly the right bank. we will be there every step along the way when you need us and it is my pleasure to introduce the man who has really made this a reality along with the commander has the vision,
joe chennelly. i always learn something in a event. joe was not only himself a decorated combat veteran and has spent his life dedicated to serving others but work for military times. i didn't know that. worked for usa. i didn't know that so he has the wrath of experience that he brings to this and we are so orton at that he is one of the top leaders in veteran advocacy and that he is spending his time and injured tea to help all of us so joe thank you so much. [applause] >> amvets was founded in 1944 and almost 75 years later we are the most inclusive national
veterans organization representing the interests of 20 million veterans. as advocates for veterans we realize the veterans communities in crisis. that is why amvets chose to make its investment to start his heel team and the best landscape above expansion of care to the community and restructuring of specialized services. there exists a need for informed advocate now more than ever taken for and suicide rates particularly among veterans soon after leaving service. with that amvets is making the investment to place a team of licensed health care experts on the front lines for american veterans do have direct access to clinician at guides them through the maze of the va health care system. it's a real pleasure to be able to introduce the leader of our team. her bio lana mckenzie who i am
proud to present to amvets, chief medical executive. [applause] >> i actually need a stepping stool. good morning everyone. thank you secretary shall then executive there joe chennelly for giving me this opportunity to talk to you today. thank you the media and policymakers for joining us today as we take this proactive approach to one of the most critical issues facing our country, military and veteran mental health. what this issue is not new to most of us we can all agree that has reached a crisis level and deserve to be treated as such starting right now. this is why we are here today. american veterans also known as amvets are one of the
longest-serving and most inclusive veterans service organizations in the country and now the organizations stand out for another reason. while being the only veterans service organization has prioritized and heavily invested in the effort of confronting mental health crisis that so many veterans are facing. we have all heard about those who take their own life and those who get dishonorable discharge from the military or become incarcerated without first receiving support and treatment they need which should include mental health services. today we are here to change that with a real investment. and that's hired me on his chief
medical executive and allowing me to use my long-standing record advocating for a nation. i will leave the amvets team. and that he'll team will consist of a group of highly dedicated license professionals who have been working with the va health care system particularly and specialized services were veterans with traumatic brain injury commonly referred to as tbi and mental health issues in the high-risk category for suicide and need the most complex care. you may be thinking why now? the answer is simple, because we all know better. we have a responsibility to do
better. there are more than 300,000 veterans who have returned from iraq and afghanistan to a situation where many face post-traumatic stress or major depression and an estimated 320,000 veterans who incur some degree of tbi during deployment not to mention those who will likely suffer these conditions do too. this conflict in training exercises. the embed heel team will not only ensure any veteran who seek our support have access to many services available, we will also proactively stake out those veterans who may have fallen through the gaps of care. those veterans and returning troops with ptsd major depression or tbi or all of
these conditions who need the most help but receive the least support. the amvet heal team has challenged itself to break as many of these political gaps as possible with the proactive community approach. first we will facilitate access to a broken mental-health screening and treatment plan to ensure it includes proper follow-up which cannot be over emphasized to successful recovery and reintegration to our community. secondly we will provide immediate access to our services by joining with amvets leadership in a series of public forums, roundtables and town hall meetings in the local community around the country. third we will hear direct we
from veterans, families, caregivers physicians and community community providers so that we can appreciate the challenge at every level and toward action, real action that brings about effective change. as you heard from secretary shall consist effort to confront the mental health crisis will require all hands on deck. dr. shuck and has made mental health and eliminating veteran suicides is top priority as va secretary and.or carolyn clancy is actively engaged as a leader of a coalition of leaders. they have stepped up. now it's our turn. we will work closely and collaboratively with the department of veterans affairs and shared the day they are -- the data we gather from
community services who turned to us. to summarize the amvets goal is to ensure every single veteran in this country who needs help will receive the appropriate level of sustained and holistic care he or she needs to live a full complete life after service service. as partner of the va we are taking on ambitious challenge of finding any and all solutions that get us closer to ending veterans suicide. we intend to heal american veterans no matter how tough the challenge and our work will continue until we get to one day we can finally report zero suicide today and end to the veteran mental health crisis in our country. i understand.ashoka and has to
>> we will now take your questions. i will pass around the mic. >> talk to me bout the cost of the partnership. is there any cause to the va and its members? >> when we talk about real investment that's part of it. we approached leadership and amvets about the possibility of standing with the team that would do this the cost was in the talent. you could put five or six people in any program but the cost is the people we have invested into way up licensed professionals who we brought on to be a part of the outreach to veterans and delivery of services which were in many cases entailed facilitating access to va and
leadership that va and those who are familiar with the va health system so the cost is what we have paid to have repression most join us and as far as that goes to the va it's really the time to collaborate. we didn't add in the cost to our relationship except we are going to put time into working with dr. clancy and her team and doctors shoeman at this level when necessary. there are travel costs and other things involved. we do the town halls but guess what comic guests guess who's stepping up to the table? to invest in amvets corporations and foundations and it's an opportunity for the corporate sector defined roles and how we carry out these programs. we have already filled in requests from companies and amvets posts that want to fund
what we are going to do. i don't know if that answers your questions but the cost is minimal compared to the return we get. >> just to add to that i can't over emphasize how important is to have this kind of assistance on the front lines connecting veterans to our services because when you hear the number 20 a day the veterans come into her system format to health problems there risk of suicide is dramatically lowered. that's not to say it's flawless but it's much better than when they are not connected in some veterans may not enrolled or may not think it would be a good thing for them to do or they are anxious about it, whatever the reason. i know first-hand having interacted with many veterans are family members of veterans whose family member does not
want to come into one of her medical systems, giving them to a vet center if they know about that the va is incredibly helpful. i would expect this will have the amplification effect and it's just hugely important. >> choice from -- today. can you, i want to follow up on the previous question if there is anything you can release in terms of the dollar amount that's helpful and if we could find out anything about the scope of it in the end terms of the number of people you will have doing outreach nationwide and are you hiring people full-time, part-time, how is this working? >> we first conceptualized a plan. there was a hefty press -- price tag close to a million dollars
and we significantly reduced that by being very frugal. we didn't add any fluff to the fudge it and $700,000 for the i.t. in the travel and the professionals and again the ideas to present this almost as a stop work companies will invest in what we are doing. there were no upfront costs but the reject it cost will be depending on how many people want us to come to their communities and town halls so it could go up to do with these spread out with a lot of opportunities to folk see as an investment. about $700,000 which is minimal with the return we are going to get. i think there was another question.
>> is that amvets assessment? >> this is what we understand a price tag to be. we have a lot of confidence and like i said we have got people putting up. we may have too many requests with respect to going to different towns meeting with governors and the governor of missouri expressing interest in doing a town hall in the area so right now we are a team of six. these are licensed commissions that would only say the front lines where talking about the accessible to veterans families and caregivers and we will find these people. all of us in this work in many ways have the ability to find vulnerabilities in the system and find where veterans often end up but they don't get the services they need and they pull
them back in. that's going to be a big challenge because this statistic is 11 of 20 don't have a relationship with the va and we need to find them. that's how we connect and if necessary find the resources they need so they are not part of the unfortunate 20 a day. >> i'm carolyn from hbi. i wondered if tickets explain more about relationships and amvets in the va and talk more about specifically how the relationship is going to pan out in reality. >> we have a long-standing relationship working with the department of veterans affairs in a long-standing relationship working with veterans organizations who have interest in advocating for health care
challenges. we work collaboratively by putting real issues on the table and also contribute solutions and recommendations. how we can collaborate in resolving some of these issues. the issue brought to the table normally is from the veteran who experiences the challenges. maybe the clinic is not operating user-friendly hours for the best treatment plan or discharging a veteran too early. these are some of the issues we work closely with the veterans health administration at all levels they call on the local medical director of business director to the central office. that is how we collaborate with the va. >> one current effort is the
executive order and veterans who are one-year full service and earlier with access to services. someone has got to actually implement that. where do we start? i met with dr. peter franklin who is in charge of the effort to oversee the implementation of executive order and ensure not only that va field staff get to work at the veterans understand how did benefits from that. that requires outreach in understanding how the system works and where the vulnerabilities are and where the gaps are that exists. where did veterans go if not ea? is coming to care c-span's we will see more veterans that are not within the va domain and we have to find them. va does not have unlimited resources to do those things but together we are force multipliers in that effort.
that's just a current example of how we can work together. that's not to say other organizations can't. we hope that they will follow in her lead and show business model that works. we hope organizations will follow suit so we can expand that ability even more. >> you mentioned him in daycare. how does the expansion of mental health services play into the dash. >> it's a great question. thank you. let me emphasize one thing that i not use self evident to people. about 9 million of america's veterans are enrolled in the health care system. we are talking about all veterans so working with the so's and others are quite vital to reaching those that are not part of our system.
in any case our scope and attention is focused on all veterans. in some cases right now you can get into any of our facilities the same day. if you have an urgent problem and primary care or mental health, that's nationwide. some communities some veterans may prefer worldbeat easier for them geographically to get care in the community and that is and will continue to be covered by our community care programs. that said if you saw the study last week i'm trying to scratch my brain to remember if your magazine covered this. they were funded by new york state foundation to look at how well private sector providers are equipped to deal with veterans health issues and they identified some gaps. we will be meeting with the team and trying to figure out as we
are referring people out to the community that they understand how they can avail themselves of some of our continuing education programs. this is one area where we may make that why be available and so forth so it's very much tied to community care. >> rachel macdill. you said this includes better access. we will have a help line that will be a toll-free for the caller and also e-mail and setting up a chat on line so we know certain generations that want to chat on line instead of making a phonecall.
we are trying to make it user-friendly for veterans that face this barrier to gain access to a clinician and talk about their challenges or maybe help them navigate some of the complexity of the health care. >> i would just note there are two issues where this is helpful to access. one is just reducing the stigma. having another veteran from an organization that you trust say it's okay this is actually good thing to do to move forward and many others have gotten the help they needed and it's a new day and so forth means far more than anyone from the dha could necessarily share. not that they wouldn't believe us but it's a different source of credibility and so forth. the other thing i would mention many of the veterans in our system live in rural areas so a much higher proportion than americans in general and one of the most rapidly growing is
telehealth for mental health services. we provide care to veterans all over the place. doctors shulman himself provides telehealth services veterans and i think grants pass oregon. it think it's a very tiny committee. >> i was wondering with the rise of the use of technology especially younger veterans how readily available it would the. >> we have a whole array of mental health apps. in fact we have been discussing with external partners if we should be evaluating them but i want to say we have developed more than three dozen of these which you can download for free and so forth. they range from apps that have
practical easy strategies for dealing with stress to a whole array of other approaches but yes i think a lot of younger folks would like that. veterans yes but also other younger people. i do have people i know who can't imagine that you would actually ever go in to talk to someone for counseling because that has never been their experience or that of their friends. they do it through phone or some other modality. it is totally free. >> do we have any other questions? in that case i would like to invite each of you to take a parting shot if you feel it's appropriate. >> i asked the question of why now, what do you do this? it's my activation of most of our country doesn't have a relationship with the veteran community.
it's an abstract nameless faceless statistic. oftentimes we don't have that luxury. we no veterans who have made the ultimate choice to take their life and this was badly needed a long time ago. right now is the time where we have the will within the va and we have the right leadership in place. we present ourselves as partners partners, as informed partners and i want to emphasize that because you can get six people who care and offer to help volunteer but oftentimes it's really a matter for you know that makes the difference between the successful intervention in one where you are at service but in this case now is the time to do this. we have to start saving lives and not just talking about it so this is our attempt and intends to motivate those who don't have a relationship with veterans and the crises that many of them face to find a way to play a
role in healing american veterans. i just want to leave you without thought. >> i would agree with everything sherman said and i would also note that this is a public health crisis. for those of you have been following statistics note that the age for the suicide rate is up and for veterans there are two areas in particular. one is older veterans which surprises some people. the second though is the year after transition. we are trying to work with many many partners on all fronts on that and i actually think the va leaning forward on this because it's such an issue for veterans and will pay benefits for the rest of the nation as well. >> we have a toll-free number
that will go live on march 19 and that is 1833-that-he'll -- and also in the e-mail address that you can correspond between infection and clinician said he'll act and that.org. we are hoping we have a better understanding for talking to the user of where the real deep issues lie. is there a barrier that we can come up with solutions to lift that barrier and make a seamless transition for veterans who need help. as a clinician i'm hoping to also motivate other clinicians and an entire health care system to begin to recognize some of the symptoms whether you see a patient or a veteran and maybe
from the grassroots we can altogether stop veterans suicide suicide. >> i'd like to thank you guys for coming out to our press conference. right outside the door if you didn't get one of these pick one up. that's a lot of good stuff in it, fact sheet in a press release that i haven't put out yet. also if you would like to set something up to speak about some of things things and then end up i can set up interviews for you. just stop by and get one of my cards. thank you very much. [applause]
>> the woman was pregnant and they were lost for three days. they were drinking water from cattle tanks and they made it to the village and the border patrol got a chance that i was the agent that was supposed to take them in greta started talking with them and it turned out this pregnant woman had grown up in iowa and she spoke perfect english. she was a schoolteacher in iowa and you know i think her husband saw that we were talking and that we have a connection and sort of leaned over and says can we skip the whole arrest and
deportation thing and could you just drive us back to the border and let us cross back into mexico, you know be a brother? i didn't hesitate. he said no, it's my job. i can't do that and they take them in but what i remember about vetting counter as i remember asking their names and i remember introducing myself to them and i remember wanting to remember them because i had a connection and i wanted to hold them in my mind that i wanted that woman to be safe and for their child to be safe. a couple of hours later i went back out on patrol. i was sitting in my car and i had completely forgotten their names. i think that's the first step in dehumanization is forgetting what makes them an individual