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Posted: Oct 05, 2021 1:25 PMUpdated: Oct 05, 2021 2:00 PM

Focus Group Discusses Veteran Suicide Prevention

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Garrett Giles

A focus group meeting has been held at Tri County Tech's Strategy Center to discuss veteran suicide awareness and prevention.

Oklahoma Veteran Alliance's (OVA) Program Outreach Coordinator Amanda Pickens says Veterans Connection Organization's (VCO) Sharon Reese did a terrific job bringing in a wide range of community leaders to discuss what providing services to prevent veteran suicide would look like in Washington, Nowata and Osage counties. Pickens says the conversation was meaningful. She says they had more time for discussion than they had anticipated, which also made the conversation greater.

According to Pickens, Washington County is one of the highest veteran populated rural counties in Oklahoma. Pickens says it is important for them to acknowledge that and pay attention to the resources and information that they are providing to the community. She says OVA recognized the need about a year ago, so they reached out to Reese to see if VCO would be OVA's Operation Connect leader.

Pickens says OVA brought the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs'  "Together with Veterans" grant opportunity to VCO. To read more about that, click here.

Operation Connect serves to interface with existing veteran service organizations, Tribal Nations and veteran nonprofits to focus on key areas to eliminate barriers to veterans' success, such as housing, healthcare, education, employment and legal. They utilize Unite Oklahoma, a closed loop referral system currently expanding across Oklahoma to efficiently connect veterans to resources statewide.

Pickens says Bartlesville has been added to the Unite Oklahoma platform. She says veterans can go to VCO in order to be put in the system for specific resources. She says this is a quick and efficient way to give veterans the resources they need.

If you are a veteran and need specific help, you can visit Veterans Connection Organization at the Tri County Tech Strategy Center, 6101 Nowata Road in Bartlesville. Pickens says you can call 211 as well if you are needing help. She says OVA has a veteran specific coordination center at 211.

Veterans Connection Organization and Oklahoma Veteran Alliance will hold another meeting on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 in Tri County Tech's Cherokee Room. The groups will discuss with up to 50 partner agencies the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) that they found from the focus group discussion.

Pickens says the best way to get involved and provide resources to veterans is to join their platform. She says attending the next meeting is a great way to get connected.

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