Veteran services | LA County Launches Veteran Suicide Review Team

On Thursday, September 29, Los Angeles County will officially launch the Veteran Suicide Review Team, a collaboration between the City of Los Angeles, County, federal and private agencies to reduce veteran suicide in Los Angeles County. THE.

The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health will lead the project, working closely with public health, the Los Angeles County Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as the physician medical examiner/coroner to implement a data system. and a collaborative death review process to collect data, analyze veteran suicides, and identify service gaps to improve support structures.

The core team participating in the monthly reviews consists of multiple county agencies, VA VISN 22 and associated VA Medical Centers, the FBI, CalVet, LA City, and suicide-specific veteran community organizations who will be working together to examine the data provided by each of their departments in order to best identify trends to shape future strategy.

The LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the pilot program based on recommendations from a study released last year. The study found a 16% increase in veteran suicide from 2017 to 2018 in LA County.

LA County Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Sheila Kuehl co-wrote the movementwhich was adopted in February 2022.

“Creating this team of experts to take a deep dive into what can be done to mitigate veteran suicides is extremely important,” said Kathryn Barger, whose Fifth District includes the Santa Clarita Valley. “The county has a big role to play when it comes to providing support services and being a resource for our veterans. I look forward to hearing what the review team finds and their actionable recommendations. It is imperative that we step in to serve our veteran community and provide them with a safety net so they can thrive.

“It is a tragic fact that the incidence of veteran suicide continues to rise,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “It is essential that we do more to understand this phenomenon in order to better meet the needs of veterans who have mental health problems and to prevent these tragic deaths. This effort will inform future policy and programming changes so that we can be successful in reducing the number of veterans who commit suicide.

“The Veterans Suicide Review Team is an important step on the road to ending veteran suicide in Los Angeles County,” said Dr. Lisa H. Wong, Acting Director of the Department of Los Angeles County Mental Health. “By working with our co-chairs for this pilot program – the Office of Violence and Prevention, the Pacific Desert Healthcare Network of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner – we will get the facts. and essential data to identify trends that will inform countywide strategies for suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention.

Jim Zenner, Director of the LA County Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and co-creator of VSRT, said, “Los Angeles County is leading the way for the state of California through the commitment of our council. of Directors to combat veteran suicide and unprecedented collaboration. at the federal, state and local level. The Veterans Suicide Review Team will not only help to understand the circumstances surrounding our veterans who have died by suicide and gather accurate data, but it will equip our departments with knowledge that we can use to target our resources more effectively to to disrupt suicide veterans in our county.”

The LA County Department of Military and Veterans Affairs provides assistance to LA County veterans, active service members, and their families with federal and state resources, programs, services, and benefits, including including: compensation and pension claims, burial benefits and services, medical and mental health referral, education and vocational rehabilitation, loan and housing grant applications, employment and job placement assistance, elder designation DMV fighter, legal services referrals, appeals process, incarcerated veterans, and help and assistance.