Today, Second Lady Karen Pence joined by Acting Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Pamela Powers, visited Charleston to learn more about veteran suicide prevention efforts.

Mrs. Pence and Ms. Powers visited the Mental Health Research Building at the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) for a tour and roundtable discussion. The first stop on the tour was to view the Hall of Heroes, an exhibit of artwork created by a veteran. Following the exhibit, they viewed a demonstration of the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and heard from two veteran patients who have benefited from the technology. The stimulation is used by VA hospitals across the country with veterans suffering from depression, suicidality, and other psychological health conditions that can lead to suicide. The tour concluded with the viewing of  a virtual PTSD Treatment with physiological monitoring and meeting with a veteran who has benefited from this program. Charleston VAMC has been working to provide physiological monitoring, which helps indicate the level of response to stimuli or “triggers” as part of Veteran therapy.

Following the tour, the Second Lady participated in a roundtable discussion with South Carolina based researcher, Dr. Tracy Stecker, Scott R. Isaacks, Director and CEO, Ralph Johnson, and Associate Chief of Staff of Metal Health at the VA, Dr. Donald Myrick. Mrs. Pence delivered brief remarks, highlighting her role with PREVENTS. Dr. Stecker has been leading studies and interventions on veteran suicide and shared more on her work and research at the VA.

“Great to learn more about technology helping veterans at the Charleston VA, the VA’s first National Tele-Mental Health Hub, providing evidence-based psychotherapies for Veterans from Maine to West Virginia.” said Second Lady Karen Pence. “I am inspired by the important work of Dr. Strecker and the VAMC in providing quality mental health care for our veterans.”

“The Trump administration focuses on improving Veteran care and access like no previous administration,” said Acting VA Deputy Secretary Pam Powers. “After seeing VA’s dedicated Charleston-area employees in action today, it’s easy to see why Veterans’ trust in VA reached an all-time high in April – up 19 points since President Trump took office.”

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.