This podcast from Military Times examines the alarming rate of military and veterans suicide, offering new insights based on research and effective clinical and peer support practices in suicide prevention. Hosted by Duane France, a retired Army combat veteran, author and mental health counselor, and Shauna Springer, a psychologist, author and nationally recognized expert on initiatives to benefit the military community, the podcast aims to move beyond awareness to identify actionable strategies that can impact the rising suicide rate among service members, veterans, and their families.

About this week’s guest

Michelle Villarreal Zook is currently an economics impact researcher evaluating programs within the federal government. She previously served as a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force, flying as an air battle manager with the 960th Air Command and Control Squadron out of Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. As squadron executive officer and chief of the orderly room, she oversaw all administrative and personnel requirements for an operational line squadron of 300 officers and enlisted personnel in theater critical operations, leading a team of nine airmen in over 30 organizational programs, and advising command staff. Additionally, she served as 552nd Operations Group executive officer, working on a team to assist the group commander and four deputy group commanders in leading and directing mission essential operations for 1,200 personnel.

After leaving the Air Force, she earned her Master of Arts in public policy and joined the district staff of then freshman Congressman John Ratcliffe. As his constituent services manager and veterans’ affairs policy lead, she led a casework team for over 100 federal agencies, ensuring the more than 735,000 constituents of Texas’s Fourth District received representation and any benefits they were entitled to. She also provided recommendations to the legislative director regarding veterans and defense legislative matters, while managing the congressman’s service academy selection board and serving as the district’s federal disaster response coordinator. Despite all this and being selected for the Bush Institute’s Inaugural Veterans Leadership Program, her two children still feel the need to backseat drive and tell her she’s doing everything wrong. In her spare time, she runs, reads too many mystery novels, coaches girls’ lacrosse, scribbles in notebooks, yells at the Dallas Stars (particularly Jamie Benn), and nags her kids to clean their rooms.

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Michelle on LinkeIn

Michelle's Women Veteran Authors project

Redefine Your Mission Web site

Join our Facebook group:

Seeking the Military Suicide Solution on Facebook

Shauna's latest book: Warrior: How to Support Those Who Protect Us

Duane's latest book: Military in the Rear View Mirror: Mental Health and Wellness in Post-Military Life

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