The Lakes Region Veterans Coalition was recently formed as part of the Veteran Administration’s Together With Veterans Rural Suicide Prevention program. It is comprised of local veterans and community leaders working to implement a veteran-focused suicide prevention program in the Lakes Region. The Partnership for Public Health and the Gilford-based Patriot Resilient Leader Institute, which runs the Camp Resilience program for military, veterans, first responders and their families, have partnered to administer the LRVC. The LRVC leadership team also includes representatives from the NH Army National Guard, NH Veterans Home, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Manchester VA Medical Center and District 1 VA Vet Centers.

The goal of the VA’s TWV program is to enlist veterans and local partners to join forces to reduce veteran suicides in rural communities. This is because the suicide rate for veterans is significantly higher than that for the general population and is even higher in rural areas where access to care is limited. The LRVC is following the TWV’s guiding principles by ensuring that the program is veteran-driven, collaborative, evidence-informed, and community-centered.

The LRVC’s first initiative is a “Buddy Check Coffee” program. It is a chance for veterans to reconnect with other veterans. Veterans who register for this program will receive a $5 gift card for a coffee shop as will their veteran buddies. The only requirement is that the veterans get together, either virtually or in-person, and have a conversation to reconnect after the long pandemic lockdown. Veterans can also connect with another veteran they do not know and will receive a $10 gift card if they do so. The goal of this effort is to encourage anyone who served in the military who may feel isolated due to the pandemic or other reasons, to get re-engaged with the Veteran community.

If you are interested in learning more about the LRVC or if you want to participate in the “Buddy Check Coffee” program, you can do so at www.LRVCNH.org. Also, the LRVC welcomes any veteran or other concerned citizens who want to get involved in helping veterans in the Lakes Region. If you are interested, you can get more information at the LRVC website or you can contact the LRVC at INFO@LRVCNH.ORG.

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