Veteran outreach program tackles tough topics during community meeting in Lufkin

Veteran outreach program tackles tough topics during community meeting in Lufkin

LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Veterans in Deep East Texas are invited to attend a community meeting in Lufkin that will address one of the ugliest words associated with veterans today: suicide.

The latest statistics show that 45 of every 100,000 veterans ages 18-34 committed suicide in 2016 – up from around 40 a year earlier, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The number of suicides among younger veterans has increased “substantially,” and Texas is among the highest rates in all categories, according to the report.

In light of the alarming statistics, VA has organized a community meeting in Lufkin, led by area veterans, to focus on ending veteran suicide rates and offering outreach to veterans who struggle with mental health.

Burke Angelina Mental Health Clinic will host a community meeting on Thursday, July 18, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at its clinic located at 1522 West Frank Ave.

“Burke was contacted by the Health and Human Services Commission because we are a rural East Texas community, and we’re one of the top leaders in suicide prevention,” said Deidra James, veteran services coordinator. “They did see a need, and we also have suicide prevention trainings and first aid, so they asked if we would be a part of this.”

Components of the program include:

  • Building a local team
  • Learning about community strengths, challenges, and resources
  • Providing suicide prevention training
  • Creating an action plan using evidence-based suicide prevention

“It’s for veterans, by veterans, so veterans have a voice and veterans have a choice on what takes place,” James explained. “If they decide that this is needed for our community, and they want this for our community, then it will proceed forward.”

The meeting is free, open to veterans from all of East Texas, and veterans are urged to attend, either to receive or offer support.

To RSVP, contact Deidra James at 936-208-9057, or email James at deidra.james@myburke.org. However, James said walk-ins are welcome.

The VA’s confidential Veterans Crisis Line is open 24/7 for vets and those concerned about them. The telephone number is 1-800-273-8255.

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