Veterans Affairs Secretary tours Wilmington clinic, talks vet suicide prevention

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The man at the top of Veterans Affairs took a tour of the local VA clinic this afternoon with U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis. Secretary Robert Wilkie is touring VA clinics in Wilmington as well as Butner this week.

Wilkie’s visit was meant to inspect the facility damaged after Hurricane Florence.

“This building had holes in it,” Wilkie said. “There was water damage throughout the facility and we had mobile vet centers parked in this parking lot.”

Wilkie reports that the facility has been patched up and continues to serve the second fastest growing VA population in the country. The fastest growing VA population sits just up the road in Fayetteville.

During his visit, Wilkie spotlighted the latest work to address veteran suicide rates. The VA reports that roughly 20 vets commit suicide on a daily basis.

“The majority of veterans who take their lives are not within the VA system,” said the secretary, who also heads the Veteran’s Suicide Prevention Task Force.

Wilkie says the task force has launched a campaign with the private health sector to provide vets with mental health services.

“What we are doing is working at the states and localities at the charitable organizations to go out and help us find those veterans, but in addition to that we now provide same day mental health services, everyone who comes to us gets a mental health screening,” said Wilkie.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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