Michigan has partnered with SAMHSA and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to bring the Governor's Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families to our communities across Michigan.
The Governor's Challenge is an intensive process that takes each state team through the stages of both a Policy Academy model and an Implementation Academy model.
TA is provided by SAMHSA's SMVF TA Center throughout this process.
The Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency (MVAA) is leading this initiative in collaboration with many other key partners to prevent suicide among Service Members, Veterans and Families (SMVF).
Reducing suicide among service members, veterans, and their families
Increasing access to services and support
Expanding statewide capacity to engage SMVF in public and private services
Enhancing provider and SMVF peer practices;
Implementing innovative best practices (e.g., Screening and Asking the Question - have you or a member of your household ever served in the military?)
To encourage organizations to "Ask the Question" the MI Governor's Challenge team developed the MI Veteran Connector designation. To learn more, visit the MI Veteran Connector page or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to take the pledge.
Everyone can help to better serve our veterans and their families by asking "have you served?"
Earlier identification of service members, veterans and their families allow for referrals to be made proactively prior to a crisis. This is very important as we know the more connected veterans are to services (federal, state and local) the lower their risk for suicide and other self-harming behaviors. It is as simple as asking or posting a flyer that states: "Have you or a member of your household served in the military?"
Veterans, service members, and their family members do not always self-identify.
"Have you served" versus "are you a veteran" is the preferred method as it enables those who do not feel comfortable or don't identify as a veteran to be recognized.
You are likely to see veterans and even service members everywhere.
Military service could be a significant connection point for you and the people you interact with.
Service connections could offer insight into other people's experiences and needs.
Service, deployment, military experiences and combat experiences can all have a profound impact on an individual's life and family.
How to Ask: "Have you or a member of your household served in the military?"
When to Ask: Each new case or interaction. Ideally the question would be incorporated into the intake process.
Where: We encouraged organizations to post free materials within their lobbies, banners on their websites and have business cards available in high trafficked areas.
Next Steps: Take the pledge, become a MI Veteran Connector.
To show your support for Michigan veterans, take the pledge to ask your patients, clients, or customers if they served. Email email@example.com to learn more and to become a Michigan Veteran Connector.
MVAA is a state agency; all services are provided at no cost.
Michigan has partnered with Hold My Guns to offer Firearms Storage for Those In Need.
The mission of Hold My Guns is to connect responsible firearm owners with voluntary, private off-site storage options, through our national network of partnering gun shops and FFLs, during times of mental health crisis or personal need.
Michigan also supports the ongoing efforts of both the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). The NSSF and AFSP have created a special presentation to help firearm owners, retailers, ranges and employees better understand the complexities of suicide and suicide prevention.
By working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, NSSF is distributing suicide prevention education materials to thousands of firearm retailers, shooting ranges and gun owners nationwide. This education focuses on risk factors, warning signs and actions that can be taken to help prevent suicide: making sure firearms are securely stored when not in use, temporary removal of firearms from the home during periods of risk and denying the sale or rental of a firearm when appropriate.
Additional measures that firearm retailers and range owners should consider to assist in suicide prevention efforts are:
1.) Reach out. Contact your local AFSP Chapter at 810-701-7790. More information and resources on suicide prevention, including a toolkit containing educational materials for use in-store and for distribution to customers can be found at nssf.org/safety/suicide-prevention/suicide-prevention-toolkit.
2.) Obtain and distribute free gun locks. Free gun locks can be obtained through your local VA Medical Care facility. A best practice recommendation would be to hand out a free gun lock to every customer who purchases a firearm from your location. To obtain these free locks, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-MICH-VET (1-800-642-4838) and request a "Gun Lock Supply."
3.) Become a Veteran Connector. The more connected service members, veterans and their families are to their earned benefits, such as VA healthcare or disability compensation, the lower the risk for suicide and/or other self-harming behaviors. A best practice recommendation would be to ask all of your customers or display in your business a sign that states: "Have you or a member of your household served in the military?"
For those who identify as being military connected, the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency can help identify and connect them to benefits, resources and other assistance programs that their service may qualify them for. All services are free and confidential. It all starts by calling 1-800-MICH-VET (1-800-642-4838).