October 6, 2015

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt Shaft
What are VA and other organizations doing to address the high incidence of suicides among veterans?

Andrew B
Via the internet

Dear Andrew
As you may know September was Suicide Prevention Month. The Department of Veterans Affairs is  continuing to lead the efforts to bring nationwide attention to this challenging-to-discuss topic, which is at the forefront of the work the Department performs every day. One of the efforts the VA has launched is the Power of 1 suicide prevention outreach campaign. The campaign challenges everyone to take that first step and reach out to a Veteran in need because we know that this simple gesture can remind Veterans that they are not alone and support is available.

One of those support systems available is the Veterans Crisis Line. Every day, Veterans in crisis, along with their families and friends, can find free, confidential support through the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line. Since its launch in 2007, Crisis Line responders have answered more than 1.86 million calls.

How to contact the Veterans Crisis Line.


Shaft Notes
The Bowen Group today released the results of a study undertaken to better understand where military members, veterans and their families seek help when they’re feeling stress. The results overwhelmingly lead to one conclusion: military leaders.

Company president Deborah Mayberry said “This study clearly demonstrates what we’ve known all along. The military culture is unique and close-knit. Unlike in civilian communities, a military member’s first stop for information and help is going to be his or her direct supervisor. The chain of command is built to support the troops, and it does.” Leaders range from unit sergeants to battalion commanders and others. “Those charged with marketing wellness and prevention services need to take note.”

The study involved a survey of Bowen’s Military Test Group – more than 450 service members, veterans and spouses – and explored questions about perceived stress, where military community members seek help, and use of websites and social media.

Results indicated that when military members do seek help online, they’re more likely to start with a search engine than a government-sponsored website. Cate Michaud, director of communication for The Bowen Group and former Marine Corps officer, states “Because of our service and family affiliation with the military, we at Bowen knew that it was a matter of trust. What is different today is that we have the data to prove it, and the data will drive the outreach solutions we present to our Department of Defense clients.”

The study also revealed that when seeking help, less than 1 percent of military community members start their search via social media. Ms. Mayberry states “It’s all about trust and influence. Without a doubt, we know that the most successful outreach and prevention programs within the Department of Defense are predicated on trust in leadership. For example, when our company stood up a wellness coaching program for at-risk service members, we did not start a social media or marketing campaign. We knew exactly where to go –first, to key, uniformed policy leaders, then to the uniformed commanders. As experts in this field, we knew who to talk to and what data was needed to garner buy in, and we got it. This resulted in a high client conversion rate, with 600 service members’ lives being touched by our professional coaches and counselors. It was and continues to be a huge success.”

Ms. Michaud continues “We are committed to understanding the military community’s needs and preferences and to meeting them where they are. We bring our expertise to bear in all of our work with the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Nobody knows this community like we do.”

The Bowen Group will be conducting more studies in the future to inform our programming and outreach solutions. For more information or to participate as part of the Bowen Military Test Group, please contact research@thebowengroup.com.


Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald today announced $12.8 million in renewal funding through the Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program to 20 community agencies that currently provide transitional housing with supportive services for homeless Veterans under the Transition in Place (TIP) model.

As a key component of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) plan to eliminate homelessness among Veterans, VA’s GPD program provides per diem payments to help public and nonprofit organizations establish and operate supportive housing for specific homeless Veteran populations, which includes the innovative TIP approach to assist homeless Veterans transition from homelessness. TIP encourages rapid movement from transitional housing to permanent housing which enables Veterans to live as independently, as possible, while increasing housing stabilization.

Today’s awards follows an announcement last week of $4 million in renewal funding through the GPD program to 21 community agencies that currently provide enhanced services for homeless Veterans with special needs.

More information about VA’s homeless programs is available at www.va.gov/homeless.  Community organizations seeking details and/or more information, may contact the National Grant and Per Diem Program office at http://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/GPD.aspor by calling 1-877-332-0334.


Last month, VA reached a historic low in the disability claims backlog by dipping below 100,000 to 98,535 – and the number of these claims (pending more than 125 days) has come down even further since. This milestone means that VA is processing disability claims faster and more efficiently so that Veterans, their families, and Survivors get the benefits they deserve.

By participating in the Fully Developed Claims program, Veterans and Survivors can take charge of their claims by submitting all relevant records with their claims at once. The fastest way to receive a decision on your disability claim is by filing an FDC electronically through eBenefits.va.gov.

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