VA launches new ‘Caring Letters Program’ as veteran suicide prevention tactic

While a simple strategy for helping veterans, research says that receiving kind letters truly can reduce the rate of suicidal behaviors by encouraging feelings of caring connection, all while reminding veterans that formal help is available if they need it.

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced the launch of a program aimed at preventing veteran suicide through the use of periodic, kind letters. 

The official announcement regarding the Caring Letters Program was made Monday, October 5th. 

In the program, the VA’s Veteran Crisis Line (VCL) will be periodically sending out letters expressing simple messages of care and concern for veterans using VA health care and for those veterans that contacted the VCL directly. 

This program’s strategy is based on the 2019 VA/DOD Clinical Practice Guidelines, which suggest that brief, non-demanding, periodic communication can keep veterans engaged, which would create more opportunities for the VA to connect them with further treatment options. 

“In the first 11 weeks of the program VCL has mailed Caring Letters to almost 30,000 Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

“This is one of the largest caring letters programs ever implemented. We’re planning to send letters to over 90,000 Veterans over a  12-month period of time.”

While a simple strategy for helping veterans, research says that receiving kind letters truly can reduce the rate of suicidal behaviors by encouraging feelings of caring connection, all while reminding veterans that formal help is available if they need it.

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