Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania- Today, Second Lady Karen Pence, joined by Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert Wilkie, visited Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System, H.J. Heinz Campus and Forever Heart Farm, LLC.

At the VA Campus, the Second Lady and Secretary attended an Art, Dance/Movement, and Music Therapy roundtable and observation where they heard from therapists and veterans who have participated in the VA’s creative arts therapies program. The roundtable was followed by a veteran suicide prevention discussion with the head of the veteran suicide prevention program, staff, and veterans who have worked with the program. They shared an overview of the program and ways the VA is engaging with patients and community partners.

Following the VA Campus visit, the Second Lady and Secretary visited the Forever Heart Farm, LLC to meet with Navy veteran owner, Rob Mowery, and visit the farm’s apiary. There, they learned more about the Bee Bootcamp program, which is a pilot program designed to offer hands on beekeeping training for veterans, and how the program has been adapting to new restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An instructor and veteran also demonstrated a hive health check.

“It is important to support our veterans, whether through creative arts therapies or entrepreneurship, and give them resources and opportunities to help adjust back to civilian life,” said Second Lady Karen Pence. “I am proud of the important work witnessed today by the staff at the VA Healthcare System, H.J. Heinz Campus and the leaders of the Bee Bootcamp pilot program for their commitment to serve our veterans.”

“Innovative ideas are spreading across our great nation to ensure the widest opportunities to Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Our Second Lady, Mrs. Pence, the mother of a U.S. Marine, is wholly dedicated to making use of the inventive spirit of our fellow citizens to further the goal of helping Veterans gain productive employment.”

About H.J. Heinz Campus’ Creative Arts Therapy Program:
Creative Arts Therapists (Art, Dance/Movement, and Music therapies are offered) conduct consult-driven assessments and provide inpatient, outpatient, and telehealth therapeutic interventions with Veterans. Therapists and Veterans collaborate on therapeutic goals to maintain and improve quality of life by identifying core problems, managing symptoms, and rehabilitating to the greatest extent possible. You can read more here.

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.