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AlisonBrill Posted by Alison T. Brill, MPH, Community Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Returning from war and readjusting to civilian life is no easy task. For veterans and their families, both physical and mental health challenges are great, and navigating the complex systems of care is even more so. That’s where the SAVE Program comes in.

SAVE stands for Statewide Advocacy for Veterans’ Empowerment. It’s an innovative program run through the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services in partnership with the Department of Public Health Suicide Prevention Program. SAVE Outreach Coordinators assist veterans and their families with getting the benefits and services they have earned. SAVE Logo2

Navigating the complex systems of care can be tricky. SAVE acts as a liaison between veterans and their families and the various agencies within the federal and state governments. SAVE team members are former military women and men or family members who understand these challenges and lend a friendly, helping hand during stressful times. They also train first responders in issues veterans face when returning home from war, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), homelessness, substance abuse and relationship issues.

The program’s primary mission is prevention of suicide and mental health distress. The team works with veterans and their families to identify the issues they face returning from service, and provides them with access to benefits and services that may address these issues and result in positive transitions back to civilian life.

Since its launch in 2008, the SAVE program has impacted the lives of thousands of veterans and their families. With every transition comes challenges, and SAVE lets veterans know that they are not alone. One outreach coordinator explained that veterans learn through programs like SAVE that it is “OK if you are not OK.”

“The SAVE program has been a life-changing experience for me,” says one veteran who was referred to SAVE. “The assistance I received has allowed me to live a productive and fulfilling life. I now have goals and look forward to the future and living a fulfilling life.”

Watch a video clip of the SAVE team in action below.

 

If you or someone you know is a returning veteran in need of help, you can reach a SAVE team member at 888-884-2838, or via email at save@massmail.state.ma.us.

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