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Karen Pence visits Detroit, promotes suicide prevention among vets

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

 Second Lady Karen Pence highlighted efforts to curb suicide among military veterans during a visit Friday to Metro Detroit.

Pence and Pamela Powers, the acting deputy secretary of veterans affairs, toured the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center and a Ferndale business that helps veterans and others suffering from medically-caused hair loss.

Veterans at the Dingell center told the wife of Vice President Mike Pence how art therapy has helped them deal with and overcome trauma.

Second Lady Karen Pence (right) visits with Ferndale business owner Haith Johnson, of Le'Host Hair & Wigs, on Friday, July 31, 2019.  Johnson, provided an overview of their work with the Small Business Administration, especially as it relates to adapting to the COVID-19. Le'Host specializes in wigs for veterans and cancer patients. Mrs. Pence and toured with Acting Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Pamela  Powers learned more about the owner's work with providing quality wigs to veteran and cancer patient customers.

Pence and Powers also met with the VA's prevention suicide team. 

“I was honored today to learn more about the valuable programs and therapies available for our veterans struggling with PTSD or suicidal feelings," Pence said.

She and Powers also visited the veteran-owned business Le'Host Hair & Wigs on Nine Mile in Ferndale. There, she spoke with owners Haith  and Henry Johnson, a Navy veteran, about their work with veterans who might suffer from alopecia or other causes of hair loss.

The Johnsons, like most business owners, say they have had to find a way to operate in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and serve their customers, many of whom are military veterans or cancer patients.

Haith and Henry Johnson host a Facebook Live show titled "The Big Wig Show" to assist customers during the pandemic.

"You all are very, very inspiring ... you give people their dignity back," Pence told the couple. She gave them a Second Lady Coin and a Military Spouse bracelet.

Henry Johnson said he felt "honored" to be recognized by Pence for his work at the business, which has been at its location on Nine Mile for 14 years.

Haith Johnson said the visit was wonderful and "overwhelming."

Haith Johnson said their business is successful because "we have love for people and we provide a service for people."

bwilliams@detroitnews.com