Education And Prevention of Veteran Suicide

Last updated on October 05, 2023

Covenant Health participated in a recent panel about identifying resources for veterans in our communities.

Mental health and behavioral health is an essential part of healthcare. In 2020, suicide rates in military veterans had increased by 25 percent, with 20 percent of veterans reportedly experiencing PTSD. Suicide is now the leading cause of death of those who have served in the military, according to the TN Dept. of Veteran Services.

Cindy Winterberger, LMSW, is a medical social worker who also serves as the ‘We Honor Veterans’ coordinator for Covenant Health. She spoke on a panel for TN Dept. of Veteran Services Annual Training and Advocacy Summit about working together to better serve our veterans.

Cindy Winterberger panel

“Only one-third of veterans in the U.S. are accessing VA healthcare and 1 in 4 deaths in America are veterans.” she says. “It’s important as a not-for-profit civilian healthcare system to connect our patients who have served in the military to resources that can help.”

Covenant Health has made a commitment to address veteran suicide by increasing education and staff training, working with other agencies that serve our patient populations, and offer resources for mental and behavioral health issues including but not limited to anxiety and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction and substance abuse, and suicide ideation.

Cindy says, “It truly takes a community collaborating with one another to best serve the needs of our veterans. With suicide being the leading cause of death for those that have served our country Covenant Health is committed to identifying, thanking, and referring our veteran patients for the care and support they need.”

As one community of care, Covenant Health recognizes military service members and veterans by asking about military status upon hospital admission through our Military Recognition Program. This special recognition, which often is accompanied by a pinning ceremony and thank you note from a local school-aged child, began in our HomeCare and Hospice service line in 2016 and expanded to the 10 hospitals. Since then, Covenant Health has had more than 25,000 patient encounters with a service member. By noting a patient’s military service in their medical chart, hospital staff has the opportunity to thank these service men and women who come to our facilities seeking medical care. It also allows hospital staff to connect these military members with VA services, because only one-third of veterans access services available to them through the TN Dept. of Veteran Affairs.

If you or a loved one is contemplating death by suicide, help is available. Please call or text the suicide and crisis lifeline anytime at 988.

For more information about Covenant Health veteran services, please visit

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