The Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County (ADAMH) and the Columbus Division of Police hosted a full-day training on June 14 to help first responders better respond to veterans in crisis. This advanced Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training was specifically focused on veterans as they experience mental health issues at a higher rate than civilians.
ADAMH has been partnering with Columbus Police on CIT trainings since 2013. CIT is a program for law enforcement officers, as well as other first responders, that covers the signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance abuse, as well as equips first responders with the skills they need to work with someone in crisis. CIT trainings bring together law enforcement, mental health professionals, advocates, people living with mental illness and their families, and other partners to improve community response to people experiencing mental health crises.
The advanced training was offered to local first responders who have already completed the base 40-hour CIT program. More than 100 police officers from the City of Columbus and seven other local jurisdictions gathered at the Columbus Police Academy for the June 14 training.
Karly Tennant, ADAMH director of clinical services said that CIT trainings saves lives. "Trainings like this are critical," said Karly. "It’s the space for intervention. When you can teach something like this, that’s when someone who is suicidal can talk it out, and that life is going to be saved."
The morning kicked off with a keynote address from Captain Tom Chaby, Retired U.S. Navy SEAL. He provided insight into his military experience and the residual trauma associated with it. Captain Chaby spoke about losing friends from combat and from suicide.
Breakout sessions and a panel discussion rounded out the rest of the day. Breakout session topics included veteran homelessness, military culture, PTSD and de-escalation. Sessions were led by a variety of experts, some from a clinical background and others from a veteran or police force background. The panel discussion featured local veterans sharing their recovery stories and talking about the impact mental health and substance use has had on their lives.
By the Numbers
- One in four veterans experience mental health issues.
- The suicide rate for veterans is 2.1 times higher than that of non-veterans, with an average of 16.8 veteran suicides daily.
- According to 2020 Census data, there are approximately 61,463 veterans in Franklin County and less than half are enrolled in VA services.
- Preliminary data from 2021 indicates that an average of 3.2 veteran suicide deaths were recorded in Franklin County per week.
Left to right: CPD Commander Dave Hughes, ADAMH Clinical Services Director Karly Tennant, Retired U.S. Navy SEAL Captain Tom Chaby