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Having recently retired from my role as the senior Mental Health policy lead for the Department of Veterans Affairs medical system, I can say with certainty that our most daunting challenge is that 14 of the 20 Veterans who die by suicide on an average day are not under VA mental health care.  This is what makes Operation Initiative so valuable.  Lou Falco and his team connect with Veterans at the community level through formal and informal networks that are often beyond VA’s reach.  They engage Veterans who may not frame their situation in mental health terms and whose first priorities are finding a job, strengthening their relationships, getting help in sitting with their own feelings and knowing that they have options moving forward.  Our nation needs Operation Initiative as a means to engage Veterans who may not even know that help is out there.  I only wish that every community was offering the in-reach, connection and support that Veterans can find through Operation Initiative!

Harold Kudler, M.D. 
Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Duke University
Formerly Chief Consultant for Mental Health
Veterans Health Administration