The Service Member Veteran Family (SMVF) Suicide Prevention Workgroup in Charlotte stood up one year ago in response to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Mayor’s Challenge to Reduce Suicide Among Service Members Veterans and their Families. Operation Deep Dive is one of five priorities for this workgroup, comprised of 158 members from the community across 60+ healthcare and community organizations.
In April, Operation Deep Dive was represented at NC Strive, a local conference for educators at higher education institutions focused on Military & Veteran Family stakeholders attending two and four-year colleges/universities. The theme of this year’s conference was “In Support of Student Veterans Resiliency and Success” and the SMVF Suicide Prevention Workgroup tailored VA / PsychArmor SAVE training for this audience by arming the audience with North Carolina suicide data and the provision of local emergency and non-emergency resources on and off-campus. Co-leads of the Suicide Prevention Workgroup and the Operation Deep Dive Community Action Team presented to the audience an overview of theory – resilience, an interpersonal theory of suicide, post-traumatic growth and expert companions – underpinning training recommendations as well as suggested best practices around suicide prevention and intervention. Participants were invited to join the workgroup, attend a training event, and/or participate in one of five smaller action teams including Operation Deep Dive CAT. Following large group presentations, Tabatha Maddox, MSW, OpDD research assistant (RA), and Dr. French co-facilitated a breakout session panel discussion on helping Student Veterans successfully navigate VA Healthcare eligibility / Enrollment, VA Specialty Programs, University Mental Health Resources, and Community Specialty Mental Health and Peer Support Programs.
At the monthly April NC Governor’s Working Group, Janene McGee, Mecklenburg County Veterans Services Division Director and Dr. Nicole French, Clinical Director at Veterans Bridge Home had the opportunity to present and discuss the progress of ongoing efforts by the Service Member Veteran Family Suicide (SMVF) Prevention Workgroup in Charlotte including an overview of Operation Deep Dive: http://ncgwg.org/minutes-and-group-updates/.
In May, Operation Deep Dive was added to the formal SMVF Suicide Prevention Workgroup Action Plan as a key priority. Tabatha attended the SAMHSA Site Visit, presented an update to the group on OpDD and volunteered to help with social media and marketing needs, outside of research duties. Eighteen members of the Charlotte OpDD CAT called in for teleconference last month for an update on project and review of local and national postvention resources sent out to the entire 24 member team.
We have a dedicated and knowledgeable group ready to help veterans in the Charlotte area. With the IRB approval and more local events coming up in June including a conversation about homelessness and suicide, the Operation Deep Dive CAT will stay engaged and is likely to grow this summer!