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VA, White House officials to hold first summit on vets', families' mental health

Jul. 10, 2013 - 05:30PM   |  
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Veterans Affairs officials, military advocacy groups and veterans service organizations will meet tomorrow at the White House for a Veterans and Military Family Mental Health Conference — the opening salvo in a series of summits to be held at VA medical centers nationwide through the fall.

The event is a follow-on to a conference held in June by the administration where President Obama announced that VA will host mental health summits at its 152 VA hospitals nationwide.

The aim is to bring together community mental health specialists, government officials and veterans groups to facilitate cooperation and improve mental health outreach and treatment for veterans.

“While VA continues to expand mental health resources to meet the needs of veterans, active collaboration and coordination with partners in the community is critical to ensuring all service care needs are achieved,” the White House conference invitation noted.

Speakers will include White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Assistant to the President for Public Engagement Valerie Jarrett, Undersecretary for Veterans Health Affairs Dr. Robert Petzel, and VA representatives. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki will deliver the closing remarks, according to a White House official.

The first VA mental health summit is scheduled for July 24 in San Francisco. The schedule for the remaining conferences has not been published.

“Through collaboration, we can promote awareness and utilization of VA mental health resources, help veterans gain access to community services, and build healthy communities for veterans and their families,” a White House official said in the invitation, sent to military and veterans advocates, non-governmental organizations and community behavioral health specialists.

The White House event Thursday is closed to the press.

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