Veterans face unique, life-or-death challenges during their service. The intensive, enduring nature of these challenges can make reintegration into family and civilian life seem insurmountable. Currently, 30% of deployed service members in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from mental health issues requiring treatment, while 20% of Iraq or Afghanistan veterans suffer from either major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, 22 veterans reportedly commit suicide every day. Despite these elevated risks, only 50% of veterans needing mental health treatment receive help because of stigma or lack of understanding.
Studies link social and community involvement with improved mental health. There are multiple ways you can support your local veterans and military personnel. The best start is supporting our local Dixon VFW Post 540. As a veteran, you can be involved in one of their dart teams or partner with other vets to start a sponsored softball team. You can also become involved in our veteran-run Dixon Veterans Memorial Park, including volunteering and helping at work days with veterans. You can support local deploying individuals and units, such as our local National Guard Armory and our very own Dixon mayor. Other VFW opportunities include volunteering with a local Honor Flight and Color Guard.
Check out https://psycharmor.org/courses/s-a-v-e/, an educational video that discusses spotting and responding to suicidal signs in anyone, with an emphasis on veterans. Health care providers can gain military cultural competence and continuing education credits online through PsychArmor Institute and Relias Learning.
Finally, if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Veterans can press “1” after calling, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or text to 838255 to receive veteran-centered care today.