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Governor’s Video Message

Annapolis, MD — Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford joined the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) and the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) for a discussion on efforts to prevent suicide and to launch the “Ask the Question” Campaign.

The “Ask the Question” Campaign is one suicide prevention strategy which encourages human services professionals, state and local government, and community providers to ask people whether they or a loved one have served in the military.  Asking this question promotes the opportunity to educate and connect more people to valuable military/veteran related programs, thereby improving overall well-being of our service members, veterans and families.

The campaign is part of the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans and Families, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department for Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The Maryland Challenge Team — headed by MDVA and MDH’s Maryland Commitment to Veterans Office — has developed an action plan which utilizes a public health approach, community-based prevention strategies, and evidence-based clinical interventions to empower action and support service members and veterans.

The initiative will be promoted through several public service announcements, including from leadership of the Maryland National Guard and Governor Larry Hogan.  “I’m proud to announce the launch of the ‘Ask the Question’ campaign to help connect members of our military community with the critical resources our state has to offer,” said Governor Hogan. “Our service members and veterans never stopped fighting for us, and we will never stop fighting for them.”

“Our veterans have given more to this nation than many of us can ever fully know,” said Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford. “So many throughout our history have made the ultimate sacrifice—and countless more bear visible and invisible wounds that may never truly heal. I am proud to support the Ask a Question campaign as I continue my commitment to improving Maryland’s mental health care delivery system, so that we may better serve our veterans and anyone who may be struggling.”

“MDVA and MDH are working hard to end service member and veteran suicide by engaging a wide range of partners from different sectors,” said MDVA Secretary George Owings. “Today’s campaign launch will raise awareness of suicide prevention resources in our community, educate professionals on military culture, and improve the lives of our military service members and veterans.”

“Connecting more Marylanders to care — especially when we’re talking about our nation’s heroes and their families — is critical to our mission,” said MDH Secretary Robert. R. Neall. “This campaign will help open doors to ensure they get the support and services they need.”

For more information on this initiative, please visit veterans.maryland.gov or email Joy Ashcraft, Challenge Team Lead, joy.ashcraft@maryland.gov or Dana Burl, Challenge Team Co-Lead, dana.burl@maryland.gov

Service members or Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a service member or Veteran in crisis, can call the Military and Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.