“Suicide prevention is the top clinical priority,” said Shulkin.
In addition to this new plan, the VA has partnered with AMVETS, a congressionally-chartered veterans service organization, to create a new mental health initiative dubbed HEAL, which stands for health care, evaluation, advocacy, and legislation.
“AMVETS is making this investment to place a team of licensed healthcare experts on the front lines where American veterans have direct access to a clinician that can guide them through the maze of the VA healthcare system,” said AMVETS national executive director Joe Chenally.
One of the first investments for AMVETS was hiring the organization’s first chief medical executive, Lana McKenzie.
She estimated that about 320,000 veterans incur some degree of TBI during service and that 20 veterans take their lives every day.
The cost for the HEAL program comes from hiring licensed professionals to join the team and is partly paid by corporations invested in AMVETS.
On March 19th, a toll-free number will be available for veterans and their family members to access the HEAL program.
That number is 1-833-VET-HEAL, and the corresponding e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.