Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services Receives National Recognition for Suicide Prevention Efforts

From left to right: VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin; Maine Bureau of Veterans' Services Director Adria Horn; and National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs President Verdie Bowen.

AUGUSTA – On Wednesday, February 28 the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services (MBVS) received the 2018 Abraham Lincoln Pillar of Excellence Award for Suicide Prevention from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Since 2011, the VA has recognized its state partners for programs and initiatives that support veterans in their respective states. The award was presented to MBVS Director Adria Horn by VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin at the 2018 National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA) Mid-Winter Conference held in Washington, D.C.

All fifty states are represented as members of NASDVA as well as the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Maine was one of five states to receive a Pillar of Excellence Award.

Director Horn shared the following in regard to the significance of the recognition:

“Maine has been on the front line of numerous innovative undertakings in the last few years and the success of those ventures is made evident by the number of veterans we have walking through our office doors and calling our Veteran Service Officers on a daily basis.

“This past December, we had the honor of hosting the 1st Annual Military Veteran Symposium on veteran suicide. This issue is the top clinical priority for Secretary Shulkin and the VA, and we are thrilled that Maine’s program will be used as a best practice model across the country to bring awareness to suicide prevention efforts.

“The 1st Annual Military Veteran Symposium was co-hosted by the VA Maine Healthcare System and Maine Vet Centers at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. Both organizations, as well as the University of Southern Maine Student Veterans Association, were essential to the symposium’s success.

“Despite our efforts, we know Maine Veterans struggle daily. As seen in California last Friday, Veteran suicide is still very much a chronic issue, which makes events like the symposium all the more significant. The VA Office of Suicide Prevention estimates when one person commits suicide, 135 individuals are affected. Here in Maine, the effects are profound.”

The Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services emphasizes that anyone contemplating suicide– a family member, child, husband, wife; or an employer worried about a veteran in their workforce – can contact the Bureau for assistance in understanding and accessing available resources.

Veterans and their families can also call the Veterans Crisis Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year by calling 1-800-273-8255. Text messages can also be sent to 838255 to receive confidential support. For more information on the Veterans Crisis Line, please visit: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

For more information on the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, or to contact the Veteran Service Office nearest you, please visit: http://maine.gov/veterans/ or call 207-430-6035.

About Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services

The Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services was established in 1947 by the State of Maine and is part of the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management. Our mission is to help Mainers who served, and their loved ones, understand and navigate the benefits, services, and programs available to them. The Bureau does this by being a responsive, experienced, and dedicated advocate. The Bureau is headquartered at Camp Keyes and has seven field service offices located throughout the state and a claims office located at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Togus, Maine. The Bureau also operates the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery System which includes four veterans’ cemeteries. For more information about the Bureau or to request assistance, please visit our website at www.maine.gov/veterans.