Local officials, health care personnel, first responders and others gathered inside American Legion Post Hardin 113 on Tuesday as Congressman Brett Guthrie hosted a veteran suicide prevention training.

“A big problem in the military is veteran suicide. It’s something that Congress has put a lot of money into trying to get to the bottom of, trying to help,” he said. “We want to alleviate a lot of the issues that lead up to veterans having the stress. It’s a stressful world that veterans live in and Congress is supporting the military in getting more and more behind veterans mental health.”

The veterans affairs Operation SAVE training was led by Kelly Marcum, community engagement program coordinator at Robley Rex VA Medical Center in Louisville.

“You don’t have to be that mental health professional, that subject matter expert, you do not have to have any particular super power to be a first responder for mental health,” he said.

The acronym SAVE stands for: signs of suicidal thinking should be recognized; ask the most important question of all; validate the veteran’s experience; and encourage treatment and expedite getting help.

Guthrie said the purpose of Tuesday’s training was to help further equip those who get called to assist in instances of potential suicide or suicide with more information and better understanding and tools to help those in need.

“We look at the congressional level for the money, but really it is the people who deal with veterans everyday,” he said. “What we’ve learned is if you can detect some of the signs and interrupt them from committing suicide they usually don’t do it again. There are exceptions to everything.”

“If we can save one life it’s worth it,” he added.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1417 or malford@thenewsenterprise.com

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