Preventing Veteran Suicide

Raising Awareness and Inspiring Action Through Film

Merit x Zoe film poster, photo provided by Kyle Hausmann-Stokes

Event Details


Thursday, May 18, 2023


4–5 p.m. EDT
1–2 p.m. PDT

How to Join:

Details on attending the event will be sent to registered attendees.


Registration for this event has closed.


Note: This webinar will feature discussions and portrayals of suicide. If you are in crisis, dial 988 to reach the national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Suicide is a major public health issue and among the leading causes of death in the United States. Although suicide rates among veterans have decreased—perhaps as a result of improved prevention and intervention—they remain elevated relative to nonveterans. Preventing veteran suicide is a top clinical priority for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the RAND Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute is committed to helping VA—and the country—achieve this critical goal.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, this webinar will explore suicide prevention strategies and the role of film in raising awareness and inspiring action. The session will open with a screening of the powerful short film Merit x Zoe, followed by a guided panel discussion featuring the film’s director/writer/producer and experts in suicide prevention. Live CART transcription will be provided.


Kyle Hausmann-Stokes

Kyle Hausmann-Stokes

Kyle Hausmann-Stokes is an award-winning director and writer based in Los Angeles. He served for five years in the U.S. Army as an airborne infantryman and is a combat veteran of Iraq, for which he earned a Bronze Star. He is a graduate of the University of California’s School of Cinematic Arts, co-founder of the national veterans organization Veterans in Media & Entertainment and the creator of dozens of public service announcements and campaigns for VA. In addition to directing commercials and other content for dozens of leading brands, Hausmann-Stokes wrote and directed the viral “Veterans for Gun Reform” public service announcement to support the March for Our Lives campaign. His award-winning short film Merit x Zoe was developed in partnership with The Mission Continues, Bob Woodruff Foundation, and Everytown For Gun Safety. Hausmann-Stokes is preparing to shoot his Hollywood feature film debut, a dark comedy drama about veterans called My Dead Friend Zoe.

Sonja Batten

Sonja Batten

Sonja Batten is a licensed clinical psychologist and Stop Soldier Suicide’s vice president of programs and senior mental health professional overseeing clinical program development. She was previously the senior psychological health adviser at Booz Allen Hamilton. As deputy chief consultant for specialty mental health at VA, she oversaw national mental health policy and led VA’s award-winning mental health public awareness campaign “Make the Connection.” Batten was the first deputy director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and first associate director for women’s health research at Yale University School of Medicine. While leading the VA Maryland Health Care System’s outpatient and residential PTSD programs, she established its first mental health outreach and clinical program for veterans who were beginning to return from Iraq and Afghanistan. Batten has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno, and received specialized at the National Center for PTSD and National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center.

Carla Stumpf Patton

Carla Stumpf Patton

Carla Stumpf Patton is the senior director of suicide prevention and postvention for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), where she oversees programs and services for military community members and families after a suicide loss. She is a suicidologist and subject-matter expert in the areas of grief, trauma, and suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention and a registered ASIST trainer in suicide first aid. Stumpf Patton has an Ed.D. in counseling psychology and is trained in psychological autopsy investigations and crisis response planning. Her dissertation research on the effects of suicide on military families was a key contributor to the development of the TAPS Suicide Prevention Model™. Stumpf Patton is a licensed mental health counselor, certified thanatologist fellow, national certified counselor, certified clinical trauma professional, Florida qualified supervisor, and a postsecondary counseling educator. She is the surviving spouse of Sgt. Richard Stumpf, a U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor and Gulf War–era combat veteran who died by suicide in 1994.

Rajeev Ramchand

Rajeev Ramchand

Rajeev Ramchand is codirector of the RAND Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute and a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. He studies the prevalence, prevention, and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders in adolescents, service members and veterans, and minority populations. He has conducted many studies on suicide and suicide prevention, including environmental scans of suicide prevention programs, epidemiologic studies on risk factors for suicide, and evaluations of suicide prevention programs, and he has developed tools to help organizations to evaluate their own programs. Ramchand has testified on suicide prevention before the U.S. Senate and California State Senate. Other current areas of research include military and veteran caregivers; associations between firearm availability, storage, and policies and suicide rates; and the impact of disasters on community health. He has Ph.D. in psychiatric epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Carrie Farmer

Carrie Farmer

Carrie Farmer is the codirector of the RAND Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute, director of the Health Care Quality Measurement and Improvement Program, and a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. Her areas of research include military and veteran health policy and health care quality. She has led studies on behavioral health care in the Military Health System, the use of measurement-based care in treating veterans with behavioral health conditions, the capacity of community providers to meet veterans’ health care needs, and innovative approaches to treating service members with psychological health problems and traumatic brain injury. Farmer also directed a congressionally mandated comprehensive assessment and led the largest assessment to date of care received by service members following a mild traumatic brain injury. She is a member of VA’s National Research Advisory Council and has a Ph.D. in health policy from Harvard University.

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