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Linda Rosenberg

President and CEO

The Opioid Crisis: Impact on Veterans

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This blog post originally appeared on the Cohen Veterans Network.

On September 27 and 28, the second annual Cohen Veterans Care Summit will be taking place at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington DC.  A meeting in DC is not big news, but the story behind the Summit, if not big news, is certainly good news.

Mental health centers are dedicated to mission, committed to the mental health care of adults, children, and families in their communities. What most people don’t know, is that they fight the good fight with little under their control and layers of outmoded regulations to contend with; and that they serve their communities despite years of stagnant rates and the indignity of cuts dressed up as “reform” and “transformation.” Now comes the good news.

By creating the Cohen Veterans Network, Steve Cohen pairs dedication to the mental health of a population – veterans – with clinical practices based upon the best available research delivered by skilled practitioners. Seven clinics are up and running with three more to come by the end of the year. CVN will not only improve the lives of veterans and their families but can lead the way for what all people affected by mental illnesses should have available to them.

CVN is a learning organization, committed to measuring performance and making changes to improve patient outcomes. Well, CVN is now operating in a USA where each day, 142 people die in our country from a drug overdose. The number of opioid overdoses has quadrupled, along with the number of opioid prescriptions, over the last two decades. Today more people die from drug overdoses than from car accidents, guns or falls. The addiction epidemic affects 1 in 3 in our country and that includes veterans and their families.

How are CVN clinics reacting to the opioid epidemic? What are the clinics seeing?  What addiction services are they providing or are they partnering with addiction treatment organizations in their local community? And what are the newest state of the science treatments including medications, cognitive interventions, and technologies? On September 28, the second day of the Summit, these questions, and your questions, will be posed to an expert panel.

Please join me and my esteemed panelists: David Stiffler M.D., Medical Director of The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone Health; Marc Fishman M.D., Medical Director, Maryland Treatment Centers, and Johns Hopkins; and Harold Kudler M.D., Acting Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Patient Care at the VA as we all grapple with how to turn the tide on the most urgent public health crisis of our time.

By Linda Rosenberg
CVN Board of Directors
President and CEO, National Council for Mental Wellbeing


In the spirit of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, here are a few resources on suicide prevention:

Zero Suicide is an initiative that is committed to achieving zero suicide in health and behavioral healthcare. The foundational belief of Zero Suicide is that suicide deaths for individuals under care within health and behavioral health systems are preventable. The initiative also offers functional tools to aid in the implementation of Zero Suicide.

The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action is a joint effort by the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The strategy provides clear strategic directions with specific goals and objectives to guide suicide prevention actions in the U.S. over the next ten years.  Check out the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention overview.

The Promoting Individual, Family, and Community Connectedness to Prevent Suicidal Behavior  describes a five-year vision for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) work to prevent fatal and nonfatal suicidal behavior. The proposed strategic direction is to prevent suicidal behavior by building and strengthening connectedness or social bonds within and among persons, families, and communities.