By Michael Sisson, Puyallup Tribal Veterans Representative


Native Americans serve in the U.S. military at higher rates than other groups. Unfortunately, Native veterans die by suicide at higher rates than non-veterans, too.


Over the last two years, at the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System we have worked with area Tribal communities to develop a suicide prevention program. In this program, we will strive to listen, and learn from Native veterans just as much as we speak. The goal is to have a conversation about wellness provide support veterans who are struggling.


One tool that the VA uses is a program called S.A.V.E., which stands for:


Signs – Know the signs of someone in crisis.


Approach – What are effective ways of approaching a person and asking if they are suicidal?


Validate – Communicate your understanding that the individual is struggling and suffering.


Encourage – Encourage the individual to get help, and assist them in doing so by staying with them until they are connected with a professional.


S.A.V.E. is a program designed to bring veterans, their family members, friends, and other community members together. And together, we have a conversation about how to recognize when someone is struggling and how to connect them to additional help.


In this conversation, we are seeking to share steps in suicide prevention that have worked at the VA. We also want to learn about approaches that have worked within the Puyallup community. Finally, we hope to find ways that we can support your efforts to provide compassionate care to Puyallup community members in need.


Join our conversation


We are hosting a free session on Thursday, March 25 from 9 to 11 a.m. All veterans, their families and friends, and any other members of the Puyallup community are invited to gather with us to talk about this important topic.


We will meet virtually via Zoom. If you are willing to join us in this conversation, please e-mail Larry.Pruitt4@va.gov or call 253-583-2307 to reserve a virtual seat.