APA co-hosts events on suicide prevention in military and veteran populations

Events included a Capitol Hill briefing, a closed-to-press conversation with six Members of the House, and a working group meeting of a select group of national experts

In mid-September, APA’s Public Interest Government Relations Office, PI-GRO, worked with the University of Utah’s National Center for Veterans Studies to co-host three days of events focused on reducing suicide risk in military and veteran populations. On September 12, APA and the University of Utah hosted a reception and dinner in honor of Salvatore “Sal” Augustine Giunta, the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War.  APA President Melba Vasquez, PhD presented an APA Presidential citation to Staff Sergeant Giunta, who addressed the nearly 60 invited guests representing the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), academia, the private sector, and congressional staff. 

On September 13, PI-GRO’s Diane Elmore, PhD, Ben Vonachen and the University of Utah’s Dean for Social and Behavioral Science, M. David Rudd, PhD, organized a working group meeting of a select group of national experts to identify “best practices” for the clinical management of suicide risk with military service members and veterans.  The  consensus meeting at APA’s headquarters included almost 40 participants from academia, DoD, VA, the National Institutes of Health and a variety of veterans service organizations.

Science GRO’s Heather Kelly worked with PI-GRO staff on the final events of the week — two Capitol Hill briefings on September 14 designed to educate Members of Congress and their staff about the issue and how researchers and clinicians from government and academia are attacking the problem.  Six Members of the House — Reps. Bilirakis (R-FL), Buerkle (R-NY), Carnahan (D-MO), Michaud (D-ME), Roe (R-TN), and Walz (D-MN) — had an informal, closed-to-press conversation about military and veterans suicide prevention with the panel, which included  APA members M. David Rudd, PhD, ABPP, University of Utah; Craig Bryan, PsyD, ABPP, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio; and David Jobes, PhD, ABPP, The Catholic University of America. The panel also included Janet Kemp, RN, PhD, the VA’s National Director for Suicide Prevention. These same suicide experts spoke at an afternoon briefing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing room for a standing-room-only audience of Capitol Hill staff, government officials and the general public titled "Reducing Suicide Risk in Military Service Members and Veterans."