- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 7, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia is introducing a suicide prevention program for veterans.

On Wednesday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and the state Department of Veterans Assistance unveiled the program named Mountain State 22.

A Tomblin news release calls the initiative the country’s first state-managed program aimed specifically at curbing veterans’ suicides.

The Rev. Chris Thompson, a former National Guard chaplain, will head the push.

Thompson is setting regional discussion meetings with a variety of agencies, veterans and organizations.

State Department of Veterans Assistance Deputy Secretary Billy Wayne Bailey says the initiative will focus on suicide risks that include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and after-effects of chemical exposure.

The program will also include educational and public awareness components to reach veterans and their families.

Bailey says the program is in its initial stages.

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