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Two-Minute Take: PREVENTS Initiative
President Donald Trump signed an executive order creating a task force to address veteran suicide. Tell us about this executive order.
While the executive order is just a piece of paper at this time, it is the first time any Administration has announced a national call-to-action to address veteran suicide. The initiative is tasked with prioritizing research, developing a proposal to offer grants to state and local governments to support efforts preventing veteran suicide, and, importantly, encourages collaboration with the private sector.
This builds on the work the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has been leading to proactively empower veterans to seek help before they are in crisis through a community collaboration approach in partnership with VA. This is exactly in line with the George W. Bush Institute’s Warrior Wellness Alliance philosophy to connect best-in-class healthcare providers and peer veteran networks.
What are next steps?
The task force should look closely at how the community grants are awarded and how they will be measured. Currently, they are modeled after the VA’s homelessness prevention grant programs, which are lauded as facilitating significant reduction in veteran homelessness. Suicide prevention is a very different challenge and should be awarded and measured differently.
The executive order does not specify if financing will be made available from existing appropriations or new funding. It’s critical the initiative identify this early on. Research has shown for community collaborators to be successful they must have monetary support for administrative, communication, and management needs. In the past, unfunded mandates from the federal government have missed the mark.
Kacie Kelly oversees and manages policy, operational, and programmatic efforts on veteran health and well-being, including the Warrior Wellness Alliance. She manages strategic efforts to promote the partnerships, collaboration, and alignment among organizations that are so crucial to fostering the health and well-being of post-9/11 Veterans.
Prior to this role, Kacie served as the National Director for Public-Private Partnerships in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office for Suicide Prevention where she was responsible for developing a comprehensive and integrated public health approach to prevent suicide among the 14 million Veterans not engaged in VA healthcare. Throughout her 15-year career with VA, she led innovative programs to serve more Veterans and their families through strategic partnerships within government and across public and private sectors. In addition, she has had leading roles to promote military culture competence in the community, outreach efforts to reduce stigma associated with seeking mental healthcare, and to enhance provider proficiency in evidence-based mental health care. She earned her Master of Health Sciences (MHS) at Louisiana State University and has a Graduate Certificate in Women in Public Policy and Politics from the University of Massachusetts - Boston. Kacie has also been an active volunteer in the New Orleans community where she served as a Commissioner on the BioDistrict Board of New Orleans and on the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross.Full Bio
Mental Health Awareness Month
May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness and reduce stigma, particularly for veterans and the invisible wounds of war. Members from the Bush Institute’s Warrior Wellness Alliance offered their perspectives throughout the month to discuss what they wish more civilians understood about veteran mental health, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. They also discussed how everyone can help get more warriors the care they need. Check out their videos below.
How a Community in New Orleans is Helping Veterans Transition
Dylan Tête, Executive Director and Founder, Bastion Community of Resilience will receive the George W. Bush Institute Military Service Citation at the Bush Center's Forum on Leadership.
Creating a Global Veteran Community
Deputy Director of Military Service Initiative Kacie Kelly recently spoke at an international veterans’ mental health conference: “Evidence, Innovation, and Practice” hosted by Kings College London and the Forces in Mind Trust Foundation.