New York State Launches WorriedAboutaVeteran.org 

Website to Provide Firearm Safety Resources to Veteran Families

An innovative new website, WorriedAboutaVeteran (WAV), launched this month as a resource for family members and loved ones of military Service members and Veterans in New York State. The website connects families with information and resources around firearm safety and suicide prevention.

A culmination of dedicated efforts by the New York State Governor’s Challenge team over the past two years, the website takes a comprehensive approach to education around suicide prevention. Several public and private partnerships contributed to the site’s development, including a collaboration with the co-creators of Counseling for Lethal Means (CALM) Training.

“Incorporating perspectives from families and Veterans with lived experience was critical,” said Dr. Marianne Goodman, WAV project lead, professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and acting director of the Department of Veterans Affairs VISN 2 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center. Thirty interviews were conducted with family members and loved ones who lost a Veteran to firearm suicide, experienced a Veteran firearm suicide attempt, and/or lived with a Veteran who owned firearms.

“When we honor our brave Veterans and active Service members, it is also imperative that we recognize the immense personal cost of their service,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul. “We must likewise recognize the crucial role that the family members of Veterans and Service members play in supporting their service and looking out for their well-being. By launching the Worried About a Veteran initiative, we are empowering family members and caregivers with key suicide prevention resources — strategies that may help them save a life of a Veteran or a Service member they love.”

The resource includes video vignettes of family situations involving firearms including examples of how to detect concerning behaviors, start conversations about safety, ask for help and navigate safe storage options. 70 percent of Veterans who take their lives use a firearm, and many never seek treatment or support. One way family and friends can protect a struggling Veteran is to help ensure that the guns at home can’t be used in a suicide attempt – and to do that in ways that feel right to the Veteran.

If you or a Veteran loved one is thinking of harming themselves, the Veterans Crisis Line provides free confidential crisis support at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1).

Starting on July 16, 2022, U.S. residents can also be connected to the Lifeline by dialing 988.

About the WorriedAboutaVeteran Team

The project grew out of the New York State Governors Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans and Families (SMVF) to address the need to provide educational resources tailored to lowering suicide risk in Veterans. The WAV team is made up of dedicated staff from Suicide Prevention Center of New York (SPCNY), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and County Veteran’s Service Offices. The New York State Health Foundation generously supported the development of the website.