New Lenox VFW Post 9545 Hosts Suicide Prevention Training (New Lenox, IL) — On 4/27/2022 at the Harry E. Anderson VFW Post 9545, in New Lenox, social workers from the Hines Veteran Affair’s hosted a suicide prevention training “S.A.V.E.”. Amy Kaczmarczyk, LCSW Suicide Prevention Coordinator and Kristy Bassett, LCSW Community Engagement & Partnerships Coordinator spoke to veterans and civilians wishing to help bring an end to 22 veterans committing suicide every day. “One veteran is too many” Bassett noted as she explained a slide from the VA S.A.V.E power point which showed a significant drop in suicides from 2018 to 2019.
Bassett and Kaczmarczyk, both who have worked together with the VA for year, received many questions from the attending audience pertaining to the VA’s Suicide Hotline as well as the benefits of the VA’s plan to combat the suicides. Bassett advised they are attempting to remove the stigma around military members and veterans seeking mental health by having more presentations, such as the one being held, and talking about mental health more. Kaczmarczyk explained to speak of suicide was taboo and would go as far as calling suicide the “s word”. The two continued to cover the breakdown of the researched statistics of suicides found by the VA and other sources. Further they explained the myths and facts of suicidal people and how the VA plans to continue to assist these heroes who struggle in silence.
Members of the audience showed concern of placing faith into the VA due to past issues. Bassett and Kaczmarczyk assured the VA personnel answering the phones of the hotlines were professionals and are there 365 days a year 24 hours.
The commander of the post, Tim Terrell, was in attendance and thanked Bassett and Kaczmarczyk. The post recently has taken an interest in the mental health of veterans with the addition of their relatively new event “Warriors Walk”. The Post has raised over $27,000 in the last 2 years all which has been donated to The Head Strong Project. The Head strong Project is a not-for-profit organization getting veterans mental health at a quick pace and no cost to the veteran or the veterans family. The Coordinator of the VA’s presentation at the VFW was House Committee member Ryan Brazel a 20-year Navy Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran and founder of the Warriors Walk. Brazel advised the post hopes to continue to build a new and strong relationship between the VFW and VA. “We all have the same goal in the end, to get the veterans the help they need and end the 22 suicides a day”.
New Lenox VFW Post 9545 Hosts Suicide Prevention Training