On Friday, July 27, 2018, Southeast Alabama AHEC (SEAAHEC) proudly co-hosted the annual Veterans Mental Health Summit with the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, GA. More than 150 attendees from central Alabama and west Georgia participated in the program: Sustaining our Joint Commission to Improve the Mental Health of Veterans and Their Families.
Since 2014, the SEAAHEC staff has partnered with the dedicated behavioral health staff at CAVHCS in support of our Veterans. The summit is an educational platform offering Continuing Education credit for health professionals in Nursing, Psychology, and Social Work and provides a format for VA facilities to establish and enhance positive working relationships with community partners.
Friday’s summit speakers shared topics of interest: transitional care management and smoking cessation along with topics of immediate concern such as the suicide rate and substance abuse among Veterans. This is timely information for family members and providers who treat Veterans living in rural counties. According to a recent survey by the U.S. Census, more than 40% of Veterans in Alabama live in rural counties. Moreover, further research indicates: of those living in rural areas, a majority rely on the VA to provide healthcare. 
The SEAAHEC supports the work of the VA to meet the needs of our nation’s Veterans and will continue to foster opportunities to create greater access to quality healthcare for those Veterans and other residents living in rural and underserved communities in Southeast Alabama.
United States Census Bureau. 2011–2015 American Community Survey, 5-year estimates. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/news/data-releases.html