After the Webinar: Veteran-Centered Crisis Stabilization and Scene Management Strategies. Q&A with the Presenters

Webinar presenters Richard Bojorquez, Dr. Piero D’Ingllio, and Dave Weiner answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Veteran-Centered Crisis Stabilization and Scene Management Strategies.  Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: Do you need volunteers for helping to clean up Clark’s house? 

Dave Weiner: Absolutely. If you can e-mail me, I will get you the link to sign up for that. We can always use help from the community. Absolutely. I really appreciate that.


Audience Question:  Does the US Department of Veterans Affairs participate in these programs across the US? 

Dave Weiner: So, they’re since the inception at Long Beach. There have been a few other programs that have stood up. The original VMET program at the Long Beach VA was stood up in 2018. And we all know what happened in 2020. It was hard to really roll out and establish a program during a nationwide pandemic. But I think things are getting back on track. And hopefully, we’ll see those things getting started or implemented around the country, because they are valuable, and it’s really not really about the VMET program itself. It’s really about the communication and collaboration of all the people involved. That’s what makes the programs work. It’s not necessarily the programs themselves, it’s the people who are involved that do that. So, if you have passionate engaged people, they’re going to certainly move those programs forward in your own communities.


Audience Question: Can you state again how did you identify veterans on calls, so you know who to respond to? 

Dave Weiner: I’m assuming you mean when patrol goes out, or maybe they get a call for service. And a lot of our training classes, we also include our dispatcher partners, and we make sure that while they’re getting details over the phone, if they’re able to, to find out if that person’s a veteran. Especially with somebody who calls in and says, hey, my son has post-traumatic stress. Sometimes that’s an indicator pay, well, is, is your, is your son a military, or military member or veteran? And then obviously, when the patrol deputies get on the scene, they can also ask. But that’s part of our cultural competency training. We tell them the things to look for in our training. That way, they’re able to kind of better identify. And then once they know that person’s a veteran wall, then we also give them the resources to be able to get that person into care.


Audience Question: Is there a grant or funding you could recommend, so our agency can also create a VMET? 

Dave Weiner: I’m not aware of any grant opportunities that specifically are tailored to a VMET program. I know the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Department of Justice have a lot of different grants that fall under, like the mental health category. So, you may be able to utilize one of those grants, but there isn’t anything specific for a VMET Program. But there are a lot of mental health-related programs that you may be able to use those funds for people training, those type of things.

Pietro “Piero” D’Ingillo: So, something that we fail to recognize and it’s one of the things that it’s so close to us, sometimes. We look over it. Think of the days when the Fire Department did not respond with paramedics and think of the innovation when paramedics were appointed to fire stations and to such response as well. From my understanding, in California was the 1970s when this happened well. So, then the 1990s, we figure out, “Hey, why don’t we start pairing mental health clinicians with deputy sheriffs?” So, sometimes, just seeing that evolution and seeing how it’s gone from one end. And it’s continued. Sort of traveling before. It’s almost like a train moving before us and how it’s moving can motivate people to understand its importance. Because as Dave mentioned, this proposal for the VMET was met with unanimous support from our board of supervisors. So, keep that in mind, because, again, a lot of times, we tend to, we just don’t prioritize mental health treatment assistance and its relevance in our society. And making that comparison to medical assistance can some sometimes change a framework.


Audience Question: Have you found that non-veterans may falsely present themselves as veterans in order to gain access to care? 

Dave Weiner: Yes. We actually cover that in our training block, it’s called Stolen Valor. We definitely address those things. This is why it’s so very important to work with our partners at the VA, so we can verify that person is actually enrolled in care or engaged in care. And we kind of cover that fairly in-depth and in our classes. So, if, you know those, those that are interested in learning more about that, one of the handouts is a flyer for our training if you’re interested in attending one of our classes. And we definitely have had that issue. And I would say prior to partnering with the VA. There were times when our local partners would bring somebody down to the VA, who wasn’t a veteran, but they didn’t know that, that person just claim they were. And that, unfortunately, causes a chain of events of the VA saying, “Well, that person’s not enrolled here. They’re not technically a veteran,” so, then it takes more time to take them to another care system, like a local hospital or something along those lines. So, we try to work very closely and ensure that verification is made before any transports are done.


Audience Question: Could you repeat that incredibly quotable statement about needing to provide veterans, with someone to love, somewhere to live? I just wanted to make sure we got that down correctly. It’s an amazing statement. 

Pietro “Piero” D’Ingillo: So, I borrowed that quote from doctor Jonathan ——– a psychiatrist, who was the head until a few weeks ago of our LA County Department of Mental Health. He was the director, which actually, I’ve been told LA County Department of Mental Health is the largest county mental health agency in the country. And so, Dr. ————- had prior experience working in the VA, and so what he strongly believes is that stabilization can be brought about by providing basic human rights types of assistance and considerations, which, as you reference, involves someone to love, somewhere to live, and something to do. So, if all, if we don’t have, if the psychiatric crisis has been stabilized, then we can proceed to these three things to help an individual, whether it’s a veteran or another human being.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Veteran-Centered Crisis Stabilization and Scene Management Strategies.  



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