News From the National Veterans Resource Squad

Mike Merrill Certified as a Veteran Peer Support Specialist

Mike Merrill, Program Manager for our Veterans Services was one of the first National Veterans Resource Squadmembers to achieve certification as a Veteran Peer Support Specialist.

These individuals have all passed the Peer Specialist Examination on principles of peer support and recovery and have been certified by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance to provide peer services to fellow veterans in crisis. Each of these members is also certified in Mental Health First Aid.

Six other members completed the Suicide Prevention Training

Equipped with these skills, NVRS will be able to lead safeTALK trainings for Volunteers of America staff, clients, and partners in their home communities and across our affiliate network. safeTALK is a half-day alertness training that prepares anyone over the age of 15, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a suicide-alert helper. Read more about safeTALK here

Feedback from those who took the training:

What did you learn at suicide prevention training?

"I learned to face the stigma of "suicide" head on and how to assist anyone contemplating suicide. The tools from the training are invaluable and a great resource for both personal and professional use." Melvyn Romero

"Wow where do I start? ASIST gave me the necessary tools to not only identify the signs of suicide but to help an individual create a keepSAFE plan. The trainers were amazing and I would recommend this class for not only direct care staff but the general public as well. Coming into class, I had two significant past dealings with suicide that shaped my view of what suicide was. This class removed the blinders and equipped me with the necessary tools to do my part in building a suicide safer community." Alan Chase

How will you apply what you learned to your work at your affiliate?

I will work with senior staff to develop a schedule to conduct "safeTALK" training at programs and other facilities throughout the VOA Greater New York area. Melvyn Romero

With the safeTALK trainer certification I will work alongside our care crisis senior leadership to hold community trainings throughout the year. I know that the professional training I received will allow me to raise significant awareness throughout my community. Alan Chase

I will train SSVF and treatment staff about safeTALK suicide intervention skills. Ramon Gonzales

I will use this when I am present with clients and out in my everyday settings. I have the tools I need to confidently approach someone that I perceive may need some help. Aaron Forth

What was the best part of the training?

It is the time spent with the NVRS squad members that continues to be the best part of these trainings. When we all get together and discuss the great work being done by our affiliates, you can see the passion, desire, and hard work that is brought into the VOA community by hiring veterans. I have grown very close to my brothers and sisters that are affiliated with the NVRS and look forward to the significant change we are working to bring to affiliates across the nation. Alan Chase

ASIST training was's a great suicide intervention skill that should be learned by everyone serving vulnerable populations. I really enjoyed meeting new people serving veterans and veterans serving veterans, but most of all I liked building and strengthening existing veteran relationships. Ramon Gonzalez

Congratulations to Mike Merrill! Thank you for your service to NVRS and the Volunteers of America family.

for more about our Veterans Services, click here.