The least we can do for their service is to help those who have served us.
Like millions of Americans I have not served in the armed forces. However because we did not serve does not mean we can’t help. We can, should, and must help those that have enabled the freedom we enjoy.
In reality, veterans were and are still exposed to realities most of us will never face. Alarmingly, in comparison to the general public there is a higher rate of suicide among U.S. military veterans. The statistics are sobering:
- There are at least 20 veteran suicides every day – and that is just the official number. We think the number is more likely 24-25 Veterans a day. That is over 9,000 former service members each year we are losing to Veteran suicides.
- Nearly 1 in 4 active duty members showed signs of a mental health condition.
In addition to higher suicide rates some of the more common mental health challenges our vets face include:
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Traumatic events, such as military combat, assault, disasters or sexual assault can have long-lasting negative effects such as trouble sleeping, anger, nightmares, being jumpy and alcohol and drug abuse. When these troubles don’t go away, it could be PTSD. The 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of PTSD to be 15 times higher than civilians.
Depression. More than just experiencing sadness, depression doesn’t mean you are weak, nor is it something that you can simply “just get over.” Depression interferes with daily life and normal functioning and may require treatment. The 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of depression to be five times higher than civilians.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). A traumatic brain injury is usually the result of significant blow to the head or body. Symptoms can include headaches, fatigue or drowsiness, memory problems and mood changes and mood swings.
If you are a vet or know someone who needs help there are resources available. Maybe you reach out to a vet to check on them. Maybe you share the resources below. A few resources are listed below:
- Mental Health.gov: Help for Service Members and Their Families
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Veterans & Active Duty
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Veterans
- Veterans Affairs: VA Mental Health Services