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The Center receives training, enhances veterans’ services
Esther Granados of the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center provides training to the staff at The Center for Counseling & Consultation to enhance their ability to help veterans of the Armed Forces.

Veterans who discover they may need mental-health services but aren’t sure where to turn, should consider calling or stopping in at The Center for Counseling & Consultation, said Julie Kramp, executive director.

“We have always welcomed veterans but our recent specialized training has given us more tools to help those who are struggling,” Kramp said. “A large majority of The Center’s staff recently attended in-person training that focused on veterans; staff members who couldn’t attend viewed the training online.”

Esther Granados of the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita presented the training that “enhances our ability to serve current and former military members,” Kramp said. “Esther lost a brother who was a veteran to suicide, which gives her special insight.

“She absolutely knows first-hand the risks to veterans’ mental health and is as committed as we are to finding the resources that can help.”

Granados is a licensed social worker and clinical addiction counselor.

The specialized training, which was presented to all departments at The Center, is called VA S.A.V.E. The acronym stands for:

• S - Signs of suicidal thinking should be recognized.

• A - Ask the most important question of all: Are you thinking of killing yourself?

• V - Validate the veteran’s experience.

• E - Encourage treatment and Expedite getting help.

“We have had training designed for veterans in the past but this in-person, real-time exchange took us to the next level,” Kramp said. “We now have better connections with veterans’ hospitals and medical clinics and are more prepared to help veterans find the best resources for their individual circumstances.”

Kramp noted that one highlight of the session was learning that The Center staff is encouraged to ask the “big question” – the one about having suicidal thoughts.

“This may seem counterintuitive to people who think the subject of suicide shouldn’t even be mentioned,” Kramp commented. “They believe there might be a more delicate approach, such as ‘are you thinking of hurting yourself?’

“But we have learned that veterans appreciate people being candid with them. This is the only way to find the appropriate resources – whether they are suicidal or not suicidal.”

Veterans who don’t know if they qualify for benefits also are encouraged to contact The Center. “We can connect them to someone who can answer that question,” Kramp explained.

The enhanced training is part of The Center’s plan to pre-certify as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic. A CCBHC is a multi-dimensional program that will be provided through The Center. Full certification will happen in July 2024.

The Center for Counseling & Consultation is a Community Mental Health Center serving Barton, Pawnee, Rice and Stafford counties. Professionally trained personnel offer: individual and group therapy; marriage and family counseling; community-support services; community-based services; psychosocial rehabilitation; peer support; and medication management. The confidential 24/7 crisis hotline number is 800-875-2544.