APA Highlights Military Servicemember and Veteran Suicide Issues

From September 12-14, the American Psychological Association (APA) partnered with the University of Utah’s National Center for Veterans Studies (NCVS) to co-host several events focused on suicide prevention in military and veteran populations.  Below is an overview of these activities:

September 12: Dinner Honoring Medal of Honor Recipient

From left: David Rudd, PhD, ABPP, Al Guinta, and Melba Vasquez, PhD (Photo by Lloyd Wolf)APA and NCVS hosted a reception and dinner in honor of Salvatore “Sal” Augustine Giunta, the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War.  The event included nearly 60 invited guests representing the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), academia, the private sector, and congressional offices.  The program included the presentation of an APA Presidential Citation to Staff Sergeant Giunta by APA President Melba Vasquez, PhD, followed by a keynote address by Staff Sergeant Giunta.  


September 13: Suicide Prevention Working Group Meeting 

Participants in the "best practices" meeting (Photo by Lloyd Wolf)APA and NCVS organized a working group meeting of a select group of national experts to identify “best practices” for the clinical management of suicide risk with military service members and veterans.  The event, which was hosted at APA’s headquarters, included almost 40 participants from academia, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, NIMH, and a variety of veterans service organizations.  The meeting included opening remarks by APA CEO Norman Anderson, PhD; presentations by some of the foremost researchers and clinicians specializing in suicide prevention; and working group sessions designed to identify best practices in assessment and clinical management/intervention.

September 14: Congressional Briefings 

From left: Reps. Tim Walz (D-MN), Mike Michaud (D-ME), Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), Phil Roe (R-TN), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) at the Members only briefing (Photo by Lloyd Wolf)APA and the University of Utah’s NCVS hosted a Members-Only Roundtable in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Subcommittee on Health.  In all, six bipartisan members of Congress (Reps. Bilirakis [R-FL], Buerkle [R-NY], Carnahan [D-MO], Michaud [D-ME], Roe [R-TN], Walz [D-MN]), engaged in over an hour of dialogue about military and veterans suicide prevention with the panel coordinated by APA and the University of Utah.  APA members on the briefing panel included M. David Rudd, PhD, ABPP, University of Utah; Craig Bryan, PsyD, ABPP, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio; and David Jobes, PhD, ABPP, The Catholic University of America.  The panel also included Janet Kemp, RN, PhD, Department of Veterans Affairs. The day culminated with an afternoon briefing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs for Capitol Hill staff, government officials and the general public entitled Reducing Suicide Risk in Military Service Members and Veterans.  The overflow crowd of nearly 80 attendees heard in-depth presentations from each of the above mentioned panelists.  The hour long briefing concluded with an engaging question and answer session with the audience.