Kalvels, Stacie
Taking a Public Health Approach to Improve Law Enforcement and Mental Health Outcomes: Lessons Learned from Veteran Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a significant public health problem and eliminating Veteran suicide is a top VA priority in which we continue to work diligently across the Department and with federal, tribal, state, and local governments to advance a public health approach to suicide prevention. The Veterans' Health Administration (VHA) is the largest integrated health care system in the United States, providing services at 1,293 sites of care, including 171 VA Medical Centers (VAMC) and 1,112 outpatient sites of care of varying complexity to over 9 million Veterans enrolled in VA health care. The VA also has its own police force, the VA Police, which is a uniformed law enforcement service that is responsible for the protection the VAMCs, the outpatient sites and Community Based Outpatient Clinics. Veteran suicide rates significantly decreased in 2019 (2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report). However, the suicide rate among Veterans was 52% higher than non-Veteran adults in the U.S. Many military Veterans are employed by law enforcement agencies as many of the skills Veterans have make them ideal candidates for law enforcement positions. There are many initiatives that target Veterans who are in high-risk population to include law enforcement officers. Additionally, many law enforcement officers who are military Veterans are at higher risk due to multiple identities including gender, race and ethnicity and other factors including medical conditions, financial status, marital and relationship problems and substance abuse. Everyone has a role in suicide prevention. It starts with focusing primarily on officer mental health and well-being and encouragement to seek out and receive help. Through this focus, we can also improve outcomes in law enforcement response to mental health crises.
Learning Objectives: Participants will understand what the VA is currently doing to identify suicide prevention as a public health crisis and eliminating suicide among Veterans. Participants will learn how many of the skills Veterans have make them ideal candidates for law enforcement positions and how they can help improve outcomes among their officers. Participants will understand how breaking the silence and stigma and improving their trainings can improve outcomes when responding to mental health crises.

Stacie Kalvels - Bio
Dr. Stacie Kalvels is a clinical psychologist with the Veterans Affairs Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. She currently serves as a Clinical Care Coordinator with the Veterans Crisis Line and is on special assignment with the Suicide Prevention Program. She began her VA career in the Northern Indiana Healthcare System as the Local Recovery Coordinator, Chronic Inpatient Unit Psychologist and Disruptive Behavior Committee Chair where she expanded and improved the use of patient-driven care and recovery-oriented services to Veterans. Prior to joining the VA, she served as a federal law enforcement officer in multiple roles for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) including staff psychologist, Specialty Program Psychologist and Drug Abuse Program Coordinator. Additionally, she was a national Crisis Support Team (CST) trainer, the Southeast Regional CST psychologist, and the local CST Team Leader where her main role was offering support services to staff and their families and training staff on mental health wellbeing. Dr. Kalvels has developed significant expertise in crisis support, suicide prevention in law enforcement, law enforcement mental health, breaking the silence and stigma in law enforcement and improving law enforcement outcomes and training in Veteran mental health needs. She has received multiple awards for her contributions including a Special Act Award for contributions made to the development of a BOP program designed to reduce inmate suicide risk and self-harm which resulted in the Director's Award. Dr. Kalvels is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. She received her bachelor's degree from Western Washington University, and her master's and doctorate degrees from Pacific University School of Professional Psychology. She completed her doctoral internship at the Metropolitan Detention Center - Los Angeles.