The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is in Charleston.

For decades, we at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center have worked alongside community leaders, colleagues and veterans’ families and friends to help veterans in need by showing support for those who may be going through difficult times. Each September, during Suicide Prevention Month, we draw special awareness to suicide prevention and mental health care.

Almost everyone has heard the statistics, and they are staggering. An estimated 20 veterans die by suicide daily. Another part to that story is that 14 of those 20 veterans did not receive care through the VA.

It is crucial that veterans know we are here to support them, and for their families and friends to know that we care for their loved ones.

Our team of mental health professionals are specially trained to provide evidence-based treatment to men and women who sacrificed to protect our country’s freedoms. There is hope.

Our VA offers same-day access for veterans in need of mental health treatment because we know the best day to provide treatment is the day the veteran asks for help, which is a true show of bravery.

In the past 15 years we have grown our mental health service from 62 to more than 360 staffers because mental health is a priority, and we are committed to hiring the necessary employees to help veterans when and where they need it.

This treatment may look like an appointment at our medical center or at one of our outpatient clinics, or the veteran may be able to access care at home through secure videoconferencing software. We continue to refine our treatments and method of delivery so that we remove barriers to care, ensuring that veterans get the treatment they deserve and the care they have earned.

We must approach veteran suicide as a community issue by reinforcing the strong clinical care the VA provides and strengthening our role as a community partner.

We encourage everyone in the community to get involved and work hand-in-hand with us to increase awareness of our suicide prevention efforts. It is our goal to be there for veterans in need, to decrease the number of lives lost to suicide and to normalize the conversation around mental health and suicide prevention.

It doesn’t take special training to prevent suicide. In fact, a simple act of kindness, such as sending a check-in text or taking a veteran out for coffee, can make a big impact.

So this month, #BeThere for a veteran in need, and let’s all work together year-round to end veteran suicides.


Director and CEO

Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center

Bee Street


Insurance remarks

I find Amanda Cunningham’s complaint insulting regarding her taxpayer-funded health insurance denying payment for her therapy sessions, but it is a good example of assumed privilege.

Millions of Americans have no health insurance, period. Deductibles can be so high that he or she might as well have no insurance at all.

In my opinion, Mrs. Cunningham’s remarks are uninformed and insensitive.


Axtell Drive


Health care claims

Regarding the Sept. 11 column by Matt Schlapp headlined, “Medicare for All would be an inhumane, inefficient system”:

To vanquish your opposition, you must first demonize them. I think the writer has done a pretty good job of that by using trigger words like “job destroying,” “unprecedented,” “fantasy,” “Death Star,” “bureaucrats,” “lost jobs” and so on.

I’d like to see some proof that a universal health care system would “eliminate the current insurance of hundreds of millions of Americans, tax individuals, families, small businesses, and large employers” (is there anyone left?) “out of a livable existence.”

To boost his argument, he should have offered a few polls, studies, etc.

Also, having been a career government employee, I can flatly state that government employees can be fired.

Where is his proof for claims he makes against other nations’ health care systems, such as Canada, England or Sweden?

Where has the writer been for the past 53 years that we have had Medicare? While under Medicare, I have never been denied a choice of seeing my own doctor or specialist or having any medical tests done. Right now, seniors in this country are having to choose between paying for medical care and paying for food or rent. He conveniently left that out of his column.


Sherbrooke Lane

North Charleston

Partisan dangers

Hicks column: A blow for moderation in North Carolina, obscured by a blow from the sea

I am writing to applaud and draw attention to Brian Hicks’ excellent Sept. 8 column on the dangers to our democracy represented by partisan, gerrymandered voting maps. As Mr. Hicks writes, “Gerrymandered districts give elected officials no reason to compromise, moderate or even listen to opposing viewpoints.”

So many letters to the editor bemoan our polarized electorate. I believe gerrymandering has played a large role in this. If politicians must answer to both Democrats and Republicans in their district, in a split that more closely reflects national averages, then they would have to bend toward the moderate center to win elections.

Get a weekly recap of South Carolina opinion and analysis from The Post and Courier in your inbox on Monday evenings.


Middle Street

Mount Pleasant

Gun rights

An Aug. 11 Post and Courier letter to the editor concerning the Second Amendment to the Constitution noted that when it was drafted, the founders were fearful of the misuse of federal power against its citizens.

In a 5-4 decision (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008), the U.S. Supreme Court found that citizens have a right under the Second Amendment to possess an ordinary type of weapon and use it in lawful, historically established situations such as self-defense in a home.

Letters to the Editor: Guns not cause of violence

Justice Antonin Scalia (who wrote the majority decision) acknowledged that there might be some limitations on the type of weapon that fit within this right, referring to U.S. v. Miller (1939), which stated that a sawed-off shotgun is not protected by the Second Amendment. Justice Scalia further stated that states can prevent convicted criminals from carrying weapons, limit their use in school zones or government buildings and forbid the carrying of concealed weapons.

Thus, his opinion was not an unqualified endorsement of the right to bear arms for any reason in any manner at any location. Dangerous and unusual weapons are not constitutionally protected.


Simpkins Street

James Island

Bridge name

I hope that no one thinks the Ravenel Bridge was named after Thomas Ravenel.

This is another reason to quit naming buildings, roads, bridges or anything else after a person.

You never know what your relatives are going to do.


Brantley Drive