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Jennifer S. Gutowski, MHA, FACHE
Director, VA Pacific Islands Health Care System

Aloha, Talofa and Hafa Adai!

As we remember the memory of the Veterans who died Dec. 7, I ask you to keep the victims, their families and everyone involved in this week’s tragic shooting at Pearl Harbor in your thoughts and prayers.  As we mourn this loss please take the opportunity to reconnect with one another and to reinforce and strengthen the bonds withyour family and friends.  It’s so sad that something like this happens here in paradise.  Remember VA Pacific Islands Health Care System is here for you.

VA ensures Veterans have same-day access to emergency mental health care
As part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) efforts to provide the best mental health care access possible, VA is reminding Veterans that it offers all Veterans same-day access to emergency mental health care at any VA health care facility across the country.

Providing same-day 24/7 access to mental health crisis intervention and support for Veterans, service members and their families is our top clinical priority, it’s important that you, your family and friends know that help is easily available.

VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention is the national leader in making high-quality mental health care and suicide prevention resources available to Veterans through a full spectrum of outpatient, inpatient and telemental health services.

Additionally, VA has developed theNational Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide at https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/strategy.asp, which reflects the department’s vision for a coordinated effort to prevent suicide among all service members and Veterans. This strategy maintains VA’s focus on high-risk individuals in health care settings, while also adopting a broad public health approach to suicide prevention.

Veteran Crisis Line
Veterans in crisis – or those concerned about one – should call the Veterans Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255 and press 1, send a text message to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net.  Suicide Prevention is VA’s number one clinical priority!

Veterans and Service members in crisis don’t have to face it alone. If you encounter anyone having thoughts of suicide, or becoming self-destructive, there are responders ready to help.  Visit the VA Suicide Prevention website at https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/.

Chaplain Services
Chaplain Service isalso available to stand alongside those who have been impacted by yesterday’s events.

If you are a Veteran and desire to speak with a chaplain, please contact Chaplain Mike.McGruder@va.gov or call (808) 433-0270.

Suicide Prevention Coordinator
We have a new suicide prevention coordinator, Justin.Fienhold@va.gov, (808) 433-0660, who is available if you should have any questions.  As a Suicide Prevention Program, we are in contact with the Suicide Prevention leaders for the Navy, who he met yesterday just hours before the tragedy.   If there are any matters that arise, needing his attention or support, please feel free to contact him.

Retaliation Notice Posted 
You may have seen a required notice posted across our facilities. Please note this notice did not occur at this facility and therefore the finding was against the Department of Veterans Affairs. We’d like to take this opportunity to remind our staff, Veterans and visitors that we will not in any manner retaliate against any individual who exercises his or her right to oppose unlawful practices, and we will not tolerate harassment of any kind. Please be comfortable to if you see something, to say something. Visit https://vaww.hawaii.va.gov/retaliation-notice/.

“One Team, One Ohana”