In an announcement that was released this week, The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) revealed it’s teaming up with OnStar’s emergency services to help improve access to suicide prevention services for veterans.
The partnership will allow veterans undergoing a crisis to access a 24-hour fully confidential suicide prevention hotline when they either push the button in an OnStar-equipped vehicle, or through the OnStar Guardian phone app.
“The VA-OnStar partnership aims to promote suicide prevention and reduce deaths by suicide by providing additional resources to veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “This partnership will help Veterans access suicide prevention support services and assistance directly and immediately. More than 400 VA suicide prevention coordinators and their teams, located at every VA medical center, connect Veterans with care and educate the community about suicide prevention programs and resources daily.”
It’s reported an average of 20 veterans dies from suicide each day, and the newly minted VA and OnStar partnership aims to greatly reduce this number. This will be done with additional training and education to OnStar receptionists and VA clinicians to help them facilitate rapid responses to veterans who need help. Additionally, the VA will provide resources and education to OnStar about military culture and how to determine if a caller using the service is a veteran.
This training in military culture is especially important to help pick up certain words and speech patterns during phone calls.
“OnStar services are designed to help our customers go out into the world feeling safer, and we recognize that for many people, and in particular veterans, a crisis can start from within,” said Catherine Bishop, senior global emergency services manager for OnStar. “This partnership with VA allows our emergency-certified advisors to better serve the heroes who have served us.”