With 14 communities now actively engaged in Operation Deep Dive, there is always something interesting happening. This blog features updates from our Research Assistants Tabatha Maddox in Charlotte NC, and Katie McCormick in Houston TX.
Charlotte North Carolina Update:
“We held our first CAT meeting for the Charlotte area in March! Seventeen community members were present either in person or by video conference call, and since most members of this meeting were new to Operation Deep Dive, this meeting was used as a time to orient them to the research project’s goals and ideal timeline. We got to learn what each member of the CAT does within the Charlotte area and see how local partners are excited to help address the issue of veteran suicide and self-harm in their own way.
We learned through this process that we have some veterans serving on this team. One of our faith-based leaders shared a personal story on what it was like for him to return from a war zone to very little support or understanding of what he was going through personally. Other CAT members described similar sentiments related to their service as their motivation to be a part of this team and to help implement some positive change for the Charlotte community.
It was also discovered that North Carolina already has a ‘veteran’ marker on our death certificates! The person who helps process those forms within Mecklenburg County (where Charlotte is located) stated that she is excited to help the team gain access to this information and provide additional help if needed. It’s quite a relief to see that a governmental form is already at least somewhat tailored to our needs as a research team!
Our next set of meetings revolve around getting more people educated around the veteran population and their various needs (while also beginning the retrospective data compilation in the background). We have a total of 30 members listed on our CAT roster, so the Charlotte area is ready to move!” – Tabatha Maddox
Houston Texas Update:
“We’ve hit the ground running here in Houston, Texas, kicking off our first Community Action Team meeting with a wide array of community stakeholders, including representatives from veteran serving organizations, the local Veterans Affairs office, the health department, and three Medical Examiners – some of whom are veterans themselves. We were pleasantly surprised to have so many individuals join us for our first meeting, and that each individual demonstrated a keen interest in the potential impact of Operation Deep Dive. The Community Action Team expressed their excitement in the retrospective data analysis and inclusion of non-natural deaths in the scope of the project. They also raised a series of important questions regarding coordination of efforts in the interest of supporting the wellbeing of veterans and their families, which we feel demonstrates their commitment to those most impacted. Our first Community Action Team meeting was a great success, and we are excited to see partnerships develop and strengthen over the course of the project!” – Katie McCormick