Veterans Mental Health Summit Underway At WPB VA

posted by Joel Malkin - 

The West Palm Beach Veterans Affairs Medical Center is hosting its annual Mental Health Summit Tuesday. 

Spokesperson Kenita Gordon says the event is aimed at fostering partnerships and collaboration with community organizations to better serve our local Veteran population.

"Providing mental health care to veterans, preventing suicide, those sort of things...that's not just a VA thing, that should be a community goal, a community mission."

Gordon tells us that improving access to mental health care for veterans is a top priority of the facility.

"We're going to be talking about suicide prevention, engaging the veteran population and how the community can help with that..improving the access we have to the mental health care that we have at the facility, what we've done so far, what we want to do in the future and how the community can help us with ideas to get veterans in the door."

Gordon says that according to studies from the Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 veterans a day commit suicide and 17 of them have never received care from a VA medical facility.  She says a big problem is the stigma that's attached to reaching out for help.

"Veterans are a very proud group of people.  I served in the Army and the Army tells me to 'suck it up and drive on.'  You have that thought process, you're trained to be that way and when you get out it's hard to really step back and say 'you know what, I'm having some issues. I need some help.'"

Tuesday's summit is at capacity, but this event is held on an annual basis.  

Representatives from the offices of our state and federal legislators are attending the summit.

Photo: Getty Images

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