The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is testing a new program in Montana aimed at connecting rural veterans in a behavioral health crisis to care. According to the state health department, veterans account for more than one out of every five suicide deaths in the state.
The Montana VA system rolled out a pilot version of the iFrontier program in June. According to VA spokesperson Christina Lundstrom, Montana is one of two states testing the program before it is expanded nationwide.
Lundstrom says if a veteran contacts a VA clinic in need of behavioral health care but that service isn’t provided locally, the iFrontier program will allow them to connect with one of 20 behavioral health providers standing by across the state.
According to a statement released today announcing the program, Joel Mitchell, Director of Integrated Behavioral Medicine for the VA, said, "through this program, we are able to quickly identify and intervene with behavioral health concerns when and where they arise and before a crisis occurs."
Mitchell was not available for an interview before this story aired.
Montana has one of the highest per-capita veteran populations in the country.