Today, Second Lady Karen Pence, joined by the Acting Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Pamela Powers, visited the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center for art therapy and suicide prevention roundtables and then visited a veteran and military spouse owned business.

At the VA Medical Center, the Second Lady and Acting Deputy Secretary learned more about the facility’s art therapy program for veterans by participating in an art therapy roundtable. Mrs. Pence delivered brief remarks, explaining her passion and advocacy for art therapy before art therapist, Shelley Knoodle provided an overview of the VA’s art therapy program. Veterans who also participated in the discussion shared their experiences with the program and how art therapy has helped them cope and recover from their invisible wounds. The Detroit VA’s current art therapist started the program approximately 16 years ago.

Following the art therapy roundtable, Mrs. Pence and Ms. Powers attended a veteran suicide prevention roundtable. There, they met with the VA’s prevention suicide team and a veteran who has worked with the program. The team gave an overview of their program, which is coupled with the VA’s Substance Use Disorder Services program, and shared the VA’s efforts to provide quality services and treatment options for veterans in the Detroit area while working closely with the local community to reach more veterans in need.

Following the VA Medical Center visit, the Second Lady and Acting Deputy Secretary visited a military spouse and veteran owned business, Le’Host Hair and Wigs. Owners, Haith and Henry, a Navy Veteran, who served during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, gave a tour of the salon. The salon specializes in wigs for veterans and cancer patients. They then shared more about their work with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and how they have adapted their business during the pandemic. To learn more about the salon’s work with veterans, click here.

“It was also inspiring to learn about military spouse and veteran entrepreneurship through Haith and Henry and their amazing story of helping veterans and cancer patients build a new confidence through hair” said Second Lady Karen Pence. “I was honored today to learn more about the valuable programs and therapies available for our veterans struggling with PTSD or suicidal feelings.”

“Taking care of Veterans is a cornerstone of the Trump administration, and under the president’s leadership, the Department of Veterans Affairs has successfully implemented an unprecedented series of reforms to improve care and benefits for America’s Veterans. As a result, Veteran trust in VA is at an all-time high, up 19 points since President Trump took office. Its inspiring to see first-hand the dedication and compassion of our Detroit-area VA employees as well as the ingenuity of local Veteran entrepreneurs, and we look forward to further improving the services we provide Veterans in Michigan and across the nation.”

About John D. Dingell VA Medical Center:
Located in the Midtown area of Detroit, the facility offers services to approximately 200,000 Veterans living in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and St. Clair counties. In addition to the main facility in Detroit, the facility has two community-based outpatient clinics located in Pontiac and Yale.

On March 5, 2019, President Trump signed Executive Order 13861, establishing a three-year effort known as the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS). PREVENTS recently launched their national health campaign called REACH, which aims to empower all Americans to play a role in preventing suicide. Second Lady Karen Pence serves as the Lead Ambassador. To learn more about PREVENTS, click here.