Walgreens announced a new collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) that is designed to give veterans more access to mental health care.
The organizations are joining together to raise awareness of issues of mental health awareness and treatment, Veteran suicide prevention, and opioid overdose education.
“Our work is driven by our commitment to encourage Veterans to get the care and services they need and integrate mental health care as part of their overall wellness and healthy lifestyle,” said VA Secretary David J. Shulkin, MD, in a press release. “Joining forces with VFW and Walgreens provides VA an opportunity to further expand our reach and connect with Veterans, their families, and the community to raise mental health awareness.”
The collaboration will: educate VFW members about Walgreens and VA programs to reduce the mental health stigma, promote the VA’s Make the Connection campaign which helps Veterans find resources for mental health issues and change the way they approach thinking about the issues, share educational materials about opioid abuse and naloxone use, and enhance the abilities of Walgreens’ pharmacists to recognize Veteran-specific needs.
James W. Graham, Senior Manager, Media Relations at Walgreens Co., told Drug Topics, “We think that pharmacists in our stores and nurse practitioners in Walgreens Healthcare Clinics could benefit from training about military culture, especially in locations that serve higher numbers of veterans, active duty military service members and their families.” He added that Walgreens would be helping to promote its safe-disposal program and its mental health resources with both the VA and VFW.
“We know that the rate of suicide is increasing for all Americans, but the rate of increase is much slower for Veterans who receive VA care,” said Poonam Alaigh, MD, Acting VA Under Secretary for Health. “With this in mind, we need to cast a wider net and meet Veterans where they live to better engage them in care.”
“The mental well-being of America’s Veterans is of the utmost importance to the VFW,” said VFW National Commander Brian Duffy. “By working with several organizations including Walgreens and VA, we’re able to positively impact a great number of Veterans, and help to change the narrative associated with mental wellness.”