Young vets see suicide as their biggest challenge


By Debbie Gregory.

Suicide is becoming an epidemic among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Last year, more active-duty soldiers killed themselves than died in combat. And after a decade of deployments to war zones, the Pentagon is bracing for things to get much worse.

Even as the war in Afghanistan winds down,  the greatest source of frustration and heartache within the United States military is the continuing rise in the suicide rate among the troops.

Our military leaders are well aware of the human cost of this campaign. Indeed, they are attempting to address the psychological needs of the troops through a variety of programs within the military culture.

Give an Hour™ is asking mental health professionals nationwide to literally donate an hour of their time each week, and provide free mental health services to military personnel and their families. Research will guide the development of additional services needed by the military community, and appropriate networks will be created to respond to those needs. Individuals who receive services will be given the opportunity to give an hour back in their own community.

The Soldiers Project is a group of licensed mental health professionals who offer free psychological treatment to military service members (active duty, National Guard, Reserves and veterans) and their loved ones who have served or who expect to serve in the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan. The Soldiers Project is a private, non-profit, independent group of volunteer licensed mental health professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, registered nurses and marriage and family therapists.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem that can occur after someone goes through a traumatic event like war, assault, or disaster.

There is growing awareness among healthcare providers that traumatic experiences are widespread, and that it is common for people who have been traumatized to develop medical and psychological symptoms associated with the experience.

The preferred treatments for PTSD are psychotherapy (“talk” therapy), medications, or both. Everyone is different, so a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. It is important for anyone with PTSD to be treated by a mental health care provider who is experienced with PTSD. Those with PTSD need to try different treatments to find what works for them.

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is the 24/7 tragedy assistance resource for ANYONE who has suffered the loss of a military loved one, regardless of the relationship to the deceased or the circumstance of the death.

Founded out of tragedy in 1994, TAPS has established itself as the front line resource to the families and loved ones of our military men and women.  TAPS provides comfort and care through comprehensive services and programs, including peer based emotional support, casework assistance, connections to community-based care, and grief and trauma resources.

VA professionals at the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1) offer confidential resources that connect Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders. The specially trained and experienced professionals help Veterans of all ages and circumstances—from Veterans coping with mental health issues that were never addressed, to recent Veterans struggling with relationships, or the transition back to civilian life.