David Shulkin, M.D., U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Since 2001, veteran suicides have increased by a staggering 32 percent. In 2016, a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found that an average of 20 veterans took their lives every day in 2014.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs launched a system to identify veterans who are at risk of committing suicide. The system, dubbed Recovery Engagement and Coordination for Health —Veterans Enhanced Treatment program, or REACH VET, was designed to aid VA clinicians in providing preemptive care and support for vulnerable veterans, even if they’re not actively seeking treatment from the VA.
REACH VET employs an advanced predictive analytics tool that analyzes data from health records to identify veterans who are at a statistically elevated risk for suicide, hospitalization, illness, or other adverse outcomes. Some of those veterans identified by REACH VET may not even realize they’re at risk of becoming suicidal, or if they’re prone to developing any of the other potential health problems the software detects.
Once identified, at-risk veterans will be contacted by their VA mental health or primary care provider. The clinicians will check in to see how the veterans are doing and develop a plan for further care if it’s required.
The REACH VET program is part of a broader effort to dramatically reduce the number of suicides. The program is saving lives by identifying at-risk veterans and connecting them with the specialized care and support they need. Early intervention can lead to better recovery outcomes, lessen the likelihood of challenges becoming crises and reduce the stress that veterans and their loved ones face.