Nebraska joins national effort to reduce veteran suicide

2-year initiative will drive enhancements to state's mental health services

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Monday that Nebraska will participate in a national challenge to prevent suicide among military members, veterans and their families.

Nebraska is one of 35 states taking part in the initiative of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services are the lead agencies for the state program.

The two-year initiative will help identify gaps in care and drive enhancements to the state’s mental health services.  The goal is to also end the stigma of veterans looking for mental health services.

Ricketts explained why this was such an important program.

“The men and woman who put on the cloth of our country are giving their lives in the defense of this great nation, and even if they are not called to make that ultimate sacrifice, there are other sacrifices that go along with that,” he said. “Some of the scars are physical, and some of the scars are psychological, and we want to make sure we are taking care of some of our veterans that have that.”

He also credited the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs for its work caring for vets and their families across the state.  He said improving access to mental health care will help the state reach its goal of becoming the best state in America for military families and veterans.

Director John Hilgert highlighted the three main ways the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs supports veterans in crisis:

  • Emergency financial support through the Veterans Aid Fund
  • Over 100 outreach events each year to help veterans get the support they’re eligible to receive
  • A live chat option and a map to mental health resources across the state at veterans.nebraska.gov

“We need to come together as a group to make sure we are doing everything we can, and raise awareness and make sure our veterans are not gone,” Hilgert said.

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-8255.  By pressing 1 when the call connects, callers will be transferred to the Veterans Crisis Line, which offers support specifically for veterans and their loved ones.

There’s no need to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to use the service.

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