VA secretary focuses on suicide prevention during Durham speech
Posted April 28
Durham, N.C. — Saturday marks President Donald Trump's 100th day in office, and to highlight the progress made during that time for veterans, Dr. David Shulkin, the secretary for veterans affairs, spoke at the Durham VA Medical Center.
Shulkin said one of his focuses is on suicide prevention and called it a top priority for VA hospitals nationwide.
"We've rolled out a new predictive tool called "Reach Vet" where we're actually proactively reaching out to those veterans at highest risk of suicide," he said.
Shulkin also noted, in another effort of suicide prevention, now those who were not honorably discharged can get treatment from the VA.
During his speech, Shulkin applauded the Durham hospital.
"This VA is actually one of the fastest-growing medical centers in the entire country," he said.
But the Durham VA has also come under fire in recent months. Photos surfaced in February that showed veterans in pain as they waited for their treatment. The first photo shows a man in a wheelchair who appears to be in severe pain. The second photo shows another man who seemed to be suffering from “pneumonia-like” symptoms, they said.
Shulkin did not shy away from the topic.
"It is not acceptable to treat our veterans with anything but the utmost respect," he said. "In this case, an investigation did go on and appropriate disciplinary action was rendered."
Army veteran Frederick Warsaw said he has been coming to the Durham VA since the 1990s.
"My overall experiences have been pretty good," Warsaw said.
His only complaint is that there are not more VA hospitals.
"The veterans who have to come from a distance and have to make their appointments and then come in, I think it's a problem for them," he said.
Within the next 100 days, Shulkin said veterans can expect to see even more for this suicide prevention initiative, which is called "Getting to Zero."