Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, & their Families (SVMF)

In January 2019, Governor Northam committed Virginia to be one of the first seven states to implement the Governor’s Suicide Prevention Challenge.

The Challenge is a call to action for state and local communities to implement the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 2018-2028 National Strategy for the Prevention of Veteran Suicide and is guided by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The aim of the National Strategy is to prevent suicide among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF) using a comprehensive public health approach. The Virginia Governor’s Challenge is co-led by the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, Carlos Hopkins, and the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Dr. Daniel Carey, and has developed a strategic framework, which is currently being implemented state-wide.

The Virginia Governor’s Challenge team includes representatives from: Department of Veterans Affairs – DC, Mountain Home, Salem, Martinsburg, Richmond, Hampton VA Medical Centers, Department of Defense, State Agencies –Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS), Virginia National Guard, Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), Virginia Department of Health, Virginia Department of Social Services, Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, Virginia State Police, and Virginia Department of Education, Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority.

Virginia Governor’s Challenge Themes: the “3Cs – Care, Connect, and Communicate”

  • Care: The provision of accessible and culturally competent behavioral health services;
  • Connect: Bringing SVMF-specific and community services together; forming systemic partnerships;
  • Communicate: Educating the SMVF population on resources and behavioral health providers on military culture and suicide prevention best practices.