Truman VA Hospital Annual Summit

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COLUMBIA - Harry S. Truman VA Hospital invited behavioral health experts and local organizations to the 2017 Mental Health and Homelessness Summit on Monday.

Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Program Coordinator Katie Burnham Wilkins said the goal is to have the groups and experts collaborate to find new ways to help veterans with their mental health and alleviate homelessness.

"As years go on we hope this becomes a larger and larger thing," said Clinical Psychologist Randall Rogers. "We really want to become partners with other community agencies."

Experts discussed topics like suicide prevention techniques. Public Affairs Officer L. Stephen Gaither said, on average, twenty veterans commit suicide each day.

He said of those twenty, only six are receiving help from VA services. He said the reason such a low number of veterans are getting help is because many are not eligible for services from the VA due to their military discharge record.

Emergency VA services are now available to those who are not normally eligible for assistance said Gaither. The emergency services provide 90 days of assistance and then try to transition veterans to a community organization.

The summit also focused on reducing veteran homelessness. 

"The Veteran's Campuses are probably some of the best examples of collaborations," Rogers said.

The Veteran Campus can house up to 34 veterans and their family members. Burnham Wilkins said half of the facility provides permanent supportive housing for veterans and the other half is the homeless shelter.

The Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program assists veterans with varying levels of substance abuse and the PTSD Clinical Team provide treatment to veterans related to anxiety.