The John J. Pershing VA Medical Center will host its annual mental health/suicide prevention summit today from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event will be virtual, with attendees being able to choose between a Teams videoconference, or a standard conference call.
“Since 2013, US Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers have joined forces with community organizations to cohost mental health summits in cities across the country. The collaboration increases effectiveness and expands care networks for Veterans and their families, which broadens available resources and programs beyond what VA can provide,” said John J. Pershing VA Medical Center Director, Drew DeWitt.
Summits involving Poplar Bluff’s VA Medical Center have also consistently added a special focus on suicide prevention.
“Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among all U.S adults, with Veterans dying at a higher rate than non-Veterans. From 2017 to 2018, however, adjusted suicide rates fell among Veterans with recent VHA care,” said VA Suicide Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Becking. “Suicide is preventable, and we all play a role in reducing the stigma surrounding suicide and spreading the word about suicide prevention resources.”
The 2021 summit with a “Dynamics of Recovery in a Rural Health Care Setting” theme will include information on suicide prevention, mental health and COVID-19, the recovering veteran and their family, and will close with a panel discussion of “Re-entry Into Civilian Life.” Numerous presentations and resources will be available to attendees, on a variety of topics.
“These are important topics in the veteran community,” said Dr. Sandra Jackson, VA Social Work Executive, and one of the summit’s organizers. “We hope the summit will provide information that will facilitate those discussions.”
“Experts who will be participating include, George Maurer and Dr. Marguerite Evanoff-Jurkovic, Karen Funkenbusch and John Fuller, Dr. Bryann DeBeer and Carl Harbison,” Jackson added. “Panelists will include James Kneiss, Jamie Jones, Roger Taylor, and Nicole Seabrook. We have every confidence that summit attendees will find the event and resources helpful.”
The summit event will be held virtually, on Wednesday, September 15, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. The event is free and open to everyone, but a special invitation is extended to veterans, their family members, and community providers.
The summit can be accessed by clicking the link on the medical center Facebook page (Facebook.com/PoplarBluffVAMC) or by dialing +1 872-701-0185 and entering the phone conference ID, 58805590167#.
John J. Pershing VA Medical Center’s Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health, Sharon Sorrell, welcomes community attendees. “We encourage everyone who can benefit from the information to attend the summit. This includes Veterans and their families, local mental health providers, education staff, clergy, medical professionals – the whole community; there will be something for everyone.” Sorrell added that social workers will receive contact hours for attending.
“The key purpose of the Mental Health/Suicide Prevention Summit is to bring together key stakeholders within VA and the community to address mental health, suicide prevention and to support the people that take care of our veterans every day,” concluded DeWitt. “We hope our veterans and their caregivers will decide to join the discussion.”