In April, researchers from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs warned that our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic could create a “perfect storm” of conditions that increase the risk of veteran suicide. Factors include the toll of growing economic stress and social isolation, barriers to mental health, and an increase in firearms sales. But has this grim prediction come to fruition? And how has the community responded to stem the growing rates and risks of veteran suicide in New York State?

On November 16 and November 19, NYSHealth hosted a two-part webinar series on addressing veteran suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic from a community perspective. Panelists discussed the risk factors of veteran suicide, how the pandemic has impacted these factors, and community-based solutions that show promise for mitigating veteran suicide rates.

Panelists were:

Part I (Webinar recording here)

  • David Sandman, President and CEO, NYSHealth (introductory remarks)
  • Derek Coy, Veterans’ Health Officer, NYSHealth (moderator)
  • James Fitzgerald, Deputy Director, New York City Veterans Alliance
  • Miguel Vasquez, Specialist, The Mission Continues
  • Emma Moore, Research Associate for the Military, Veterans, and Society Program, Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

Part II (Webinar recording here)

  • Derek Coy, Veterans’ Health Officer, NYSHealth (moderator)
  • Cathy Barber, Senior Researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Research Center
  • Hannah Sinoway, Executive Vice President of Organization Strategy & Engagement, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
  • Chris Ford, Chief Executive Officer, Stop Soldier Suicide

Resources:

CNAS State Benefits Finder: https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/state-veteran-benefit-finder

CNAS New York State Minority Veterans Needs Assessment:  https://nyshealthfoundation.org/resource/new-york-state-minority-veteran-needs-assessment/

The Mission Continues – Resources for Vets: https://nyshealthfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/The-Mission-Continues_Resources-for-Veterans-One-Pager.pdf

IAVA Quick Reaction Force: 24/7 peer support, comprehensive care management, and connections to resources for all veterans and family members, regardless of era, discharge status, or location: 855-91RAPID (855-917-2743) or www.quickreactionforce.org

Stop Soldier Suicide – Get Help Form: https://stopsoldiersuicide.org/get-help?form=B

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health – Means Matter: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/firearm-instructors/

Hold My Guns: https://www.holdmyguns.org/our-mission/

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