MARQUETTE– The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center hosted the fifth annual Mental Health Summit at Lakeview Arena Tuesday morning.
“The goal for us is to continue to build collaboration so that wherever our veterans go, whether that in the community or in the VA we know what services are available and we can provide those,” Behavioral health assistant chief Barbara Nelson-Thomson said.
Alliances formed with VA and community partners, are beneficial to help our veterans further down the road. The main topics this year are pain management, substance abuse, and PTSD.
“Certainly across the country the emphasis has been on suicide prevention. Our secretary of the VA mentioned that his goal is zero suicides, which is a tall order,” Nelson-Thomson said. “So what we’re doing with whatever topic we’re talking about we’re focusing in on; how do we help veterans, how do we save their lives, how do we help them to be able to manage in a way where they are not wanting to end their lives.”
A lot of information was shared throughout the presentations but a major detail that cannot go unnoticed-the large amount of veterans working in the community as veteran providers.
Thomson said it’s nice to have Veterans here since they have walked the walk and know what our veterans are going through.
Frank Lombard is one of those veterans. Lombard has recently been appointed by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency to connect his fellow veterans with resources and service providers across the U.P.
“Well as a veteran I think that there are a lot of misconceptions that maybe perpetrated through movies, and sometimes media, that veterans are broke and they are pitiable,” Veteran/regional coordinator Frank Lombard said. “Veterans are very resilient they can come back and be great assets to the community. I feel very strongly that with the right supports every veteran can succeed coming back from the combat zone.”
Lombard said there are always more resources to be found to help our veterans and events like the summit do exactly that.