Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center hosts 7th annual Mental Health Summit

IRON MOUNTAIN — The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain hosted its 7th annual Mental Health Summit at Bay College West.

The purpose of the Mental Health Summit is to bring together organizations and mental health advocates in the community, including Veterans and their families, with the goal of enhancing the mental health and well being of Veterans and their families.

“So the purpose of the summit is to get community partners together and individuals in the community who work with our veterans,” said Amy Fowler, Local Recovery Coordinator for Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center. “So our main priority is to put veterans and their families first. That is our mission. We also want to get good mental health care out there to all of our veterans. So we work with the community partners and collaborate with them. So they meet with the veterans in the community; where they live and work. That way they can give them information about the VA and the services and more ways to collaborate together.”

Topics at this year’s Mental Health Summit include suicide prevention, intimate partner violence, aging and mental health, quality of life, innovative treatment options and chronic pain. The main topic this summit is focusing on is letting Veterans know there are resources and how to utilize them.

“The number one topics for the VA right now and that have been for quite some time would be access to mental health services,” explained Fowler. “Veterans and their families know specifically how to contact us about care, and so if they know someone who needs those services or who is interested or someone who is in crisis that they know who to contact and how to reach us. Those are the two priorities; access and suicide prevention.”

The keynote speaker for the summit also had a chance to tell his story involving PTSD, and how events in his life were changed due to the help he received from the VA.

“I work with the veterans and I went to a PTSD program and I found it very valuable,” explained Bob Hazen, Summit Keynote speaker and Vietnam Veteran. “The VA has done a great deal in my life and I would just like to help them out. I would also like to help give back to the community because there is a lot of trauma. I come across a lot of veterans that have PTSD. So I help them with their benefits, get them with paper work and steer them to the VA to get them counseling that all the veteran’s need.”

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