by H. Chung So, Public Information Officer
L.A. County’s Veteran Suicide Review Team (VSRT) officially kicked off with its first meeting yesterday at LACDMH’s headquarters, beginning a collaborative and data-informed process to analyze veteran suicides and look for opportunities to prevent additional suicides in the veteran community.
The partnership included staff and resources from multiple County departments, including co-chair departments LACDMH, Medical Examiner/Coroner, Public Health, as well as additional representatives from Military and Veterans Affairs, local, state, federal, and private agencies. Together, they will systematically examine veteran suicide, with a focus on identifying service gaps or unmet needs so that resources can be enhanced to better support veterans’ well-being.
VSRT’s creation was introduced as a board motion by L.A. County Supervisors Kathryn Barger, and it was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors. LACDMH is the lead administrative agency for VSRT during its one-year pilot phase.
La Tina Jackson, Deputy Director of LACDMH’s Countywide Engagement Division, spoke about the need to address suicide in the veteran community. “The unfortunate reality is that veterans die by suicide at four times more than the national average,” said Ms. Jackson. “They have a 57 percent higher risk for death by suicide than those who have not served. This is the disproportionate but preventable burden that each of us gathered here today has made a commitment to course correct. It is that commitment, that promise to our veterans and their families that we commence and commemorate today.”