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Minnesotan Denis McDonough made his first visit back home as Secretary of Veterans affairs to see the work the Minneapolis VA is doing to combat the issue of veteran suicide (1:49) WCCO 4 News At 5 - May 21, 2021
- Minnesota native son Denis McDonough makes his first visit back home as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith invited him to see the groundbreaking work the Minneapolis VA is doing to combat the issue of veteran suicide. WCCO's Reg Chapman was there when Secretary McDonough spoke about how the work done here will serve as an example for VAs across the country.
REG CHAPMAN: In his first visit back to his home state as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough spent time speaking with veterans at the Minneapolis VA.
DENIS MCDONOUGH: I want to come home because of a national tragedy we face.
REG CHAPMAN: The new Secretary of Veterans Affairs is here to see the work being done to prevent veteran suicide. The Minneapolis VA is one of a handful of veterans hospitals across the country in a pilot program focused on reducing the number of veterans who take their own lives. Secretary McDonough says this hospital manifests the three core truths to prevent suicide.
DENIS MCDONOUGH: One, that suicide is preventable. Two, that it will require a public health approach to prevent suicide. And three, that it takes all of us, not just veterans, not just the VA, but the whole community, the whole state to ensure that we prevent suicide.
REG CHAPMAN: The proof is in the numbers that point to a decrease of veteran suicides in Minnesota.
DENIS MCDONOUGH: Over the last five years in this region, we've seen a decrease in suicide as measured against the previous five years because of the clinical interventions.
REG CHAPMAN: He points to the concerted follow up after inpatient care as key to this VA success, that plus its community-based approach that has 40 community cooperation programs. 11 of those started during the pandemic. As reasons why, Minnesota has a model program to reduce veteran suicide that will be shared with other VAs across the country. Reg Chapman, WCCO 4 News.