Veteran suicide is tragic and has now become a national topic (thanks to Veteran advocacy groups like 22Kill (http://www.22kill.com), the Tattered Flag Project (https://www.tatteredflagproject.com/about) and others, and the American people are finally now aware that those impacted by war deserve understanding and advocacy.

In decades past, the men that returned were once known to have had “shell shock” and people generally didn’t know or understand the implications to those terms.  If the Veteran formally medicated, a coctail of pharmaceutical drugs were hopefully offered talk therapy.   Others self-medicated with drugs or alcohol.

Overall, it seems that there is a lack of support for Veterans who deal with any of the reported issues (Amvets American Veteran Magazine summer 2016 issue, page 14):

mental issues such as anxiety, depression

traumatic experience such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, combat

bullying, substance abuse, unemployment, loneliness/isolation, relationship problems, philosophical crisis (lack of life meaning)

relationship problems, financial issues and/or chronic pain

Everyone can suffer with any of these issues, and they don’t have to be a Veteran, but what sets people into a path of bouncing back into a productive life is having a proper support system and adequate coping skills.  It is time that we step up for our Veterans and create “safe places” and spaces where education, understanding, and support lead the way.  Not one more Veteran needs to take his or her life.

There are several free programs throughout the state of Texas and countrywide that require only a DD214 as proof of service.  In many cases, the spouse and children can partake in the experience free of charge, and a parent with PTS often acts out in the home and other family members become impacted.  The Veteran Crisis line is also a great way to get extra help, and you can call 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-8255, press 1.  This is an anonymous way to chat with someone trained to assist in crucial moments, plus they also can share the free resources in your particular area.

Suicide does not have to be the answer, and our Veterans are a valuable resource and asset to our nation.

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