VETERANS ADVOCATE: Suicide Not the Problem, it’s Final Consequence of Multiple Problems

Tom Tarantino tells Congress that VA must redirect communications efforts to wider public audience by hiring commercial ad firms

Dec. 2, 2011

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Senior Legislative Associate testified before the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health regarding the VA’s Suicide Prevention programs.

Watch Tom Tarantino’s testimony to Congress:

Read excerpt from Tom Tarantino’s written testimony:

“We also know that many veterans may not be seeking care because of the stigma attached to mental health injuries. Multiple studies confirm that veterans are concerned about how seeking care could impact their careers, both in and out of the military. Concerns include the effect on their ability to get security clearances and how co-workers and supervisors would perceive them. It is critical that we continue to work to reduce this stigma.

To combat this, IAVA recommends that the VA and DoD partner with experts in the private and nonprofit sector to develop a robust and aggressive outreach campaign.  This campaign should focus on directing veterans to services such as Vet Centers, as well as local community and state based services. It should be integrated into local campaigns such as San Francisco’s veterans 311 campaign.

This campaign should be well-funded and reflect the best practices and expertise of experts in both the mental health and advertising fields. For our part, IAVA has partnered with the Ad Council to launch a public service awareness campaign that is focused on the mental health and invisible injuries facing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Part of this campaign focuses on reducing the stigma of seeking mental health care. We are happy to share our best practices from this campaign to aid in this effort.”

Read Tom Tarantino’s full testimony:
http://veterans.house.gov/witness-testimony/tom-tarantino-8

View all witness testimony and full webcast (scroll to bottom of page):
http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/understanding-and-preventing-veteran-suicide

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