Author Archives: Brent Thompson

Preventing Suicide: If You See Something, Say Something

Aug 13, 2014, 9:16 AM, Posted by Brent Thompson

Dave and Brent Dave and Brent

The second week of August is one of the worst weeks of the year for me. At least it has been since 2008.

Six years ago this week, my friend Dave decided he had enough of the daily struggles of this world and took his own life on a trailhead in the desert near Tucson, Ariz.

He was 31 years old and left behind a fiancé, family, and scores of friends who loved him deeply.

Dave was one of the most incredible people I’ve ever known: a generous soul, full of humor, creativity, compassion, and love. He had more friends than anyone I know. Dave elevated everyone who knew him, inspiring them to find joy, open their minds, chase dreams, and see beauty in the world. It is impossible to count the lives Dave changed for the better, including my own.

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Here's to the Nurses

May 8, 2014, 10:55 AM, Posted by Brent Thompson

Two people, one elderly, one younger, holding hands.

One evening several years ago, as my grandmother suffered through a painful end to her long life, our family gathered around her bedside at a hospital in South Jersey. She had been unconscious most of the day, but various family members, including my grandfather—her husband of six decades—had kept vigil at her bedside because they wanted to be with her in her last moments.

I was the last to arrive.

Shortly after I joined my family in the room, her physician showed up, checked her charts, and pronounced her “pretty much fine under the circumstances.” Then the doctor hurried off to complete his rounds.

My weary family, girding for the possibility of another long night at the hospital, decided to go downstairs for a bite to eat and some coffee. Because I had just arrived, I wanted some time alone with my grandmother, so I stayed behind in the room.

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Medicaid Expansion Could Provide 1.3 Million Veterans with the Care America Owes Them

May 30, 2013, 2:16 PM, Posted by Brent Thompson

Military soldier soluting the flag.

This past weekend, many of us enjoyed a great Memorial Day holiday filled with family, fun, and backyard barbecues.

Others, such as National Journal's Major Garrett visited somber war memorials. In his “All Powers” column, Garrett writes poignantly and passionately about our combat veterans—reflections inspired by a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington.

In How We Could Do More For Our Vets, Garrett writes about the health struggles of his cousin, a Vietnam vet, and the level of care that our nation owes to a generation of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

Garrett’s thought-provoking piece is worth your time.

As I read his column, I was reminded how surprised I was earlier this spring when I read an RWJF/Urban Institute report on the prospects for covering 1.3 million uninsured veterans and their families under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Wait just a second, I thought. All the brave men and women who put their lives on the line for our country have access to the health care they need through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), right?


According to Urban’s Jennifer Haley and Genevieve Kenney, “priority is based on service-related disabilities, income, and other factors. Many low-income veterans eligible for VA care may not live close to VA facilities or may not know that VA care is available. Most spouses of veterans do not qualify for VA care, and many also do not qualify for Medicaid under the current requirements, which vary by state.”

But there is good news. The ACA’s Medicaid expansion means a “substantial increase in Medicaid eligibility for uninsured veterans,” according to the authors. In other words, 1.3 million vets could be in a position to secure public health insurance beginning in 2014.

Unfortunately, less than half of these uninsured vets will actually receive coverage because they live in states that are likely to reject Medicaid expansion. Wow.

It might be too much to ask Americans to add policy articles to their summer reading stack, but I urge you to spend a few minutes with Garrett's piece and the RWJF/Urban Institute report.

And when you do, think about what America’s veterans deserve from our nation.

Brent Thompson is a communications officer working with RWJF's Coverage team.