How to Help Our Heroes: Mental Health Resources for Veteran and Their Families

When we have a federal holiday, many of us focus on the opportunity to enjoy an extended weekend and our focus is on getting together with our loved ones or using our spare time to our advantage.  It’s easy to focus on the things we don’t get to do often and lose sight of the true meaning of Memorial Day.11377140_10152980829086775_5786723641010396236_n.jpgThis Memorial Day, we ask that you remember not only the fallen soldiers but also their families and the veterans among us today who suffer with the painful memories of war and their fallen brothers and sisters.

Statistics show an estimated 25% of people who served in the U.S. military have symptoms of at least one mental health condition, with more than 10% qualifying for a diagnosis of two or more mental illnesses frequently acquired while serving their country. Our military faces many challenges that we, as average citizens, cannot fathom such as; Extended separation from their loved ones, facing the harsh realities of combat, and head trauma as well as being obligated to press on in war under severe emotional stress.

According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research many veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from either major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.  Major depression is characterized by encompassing periods of low moods, loss of interest in activities that were once desirable, continuing fatigue, and other characteristics that minimize the victim’s quality of life, ability to work and even his or her ability to function in basic day to day activities.  Post-traumatic stress disorder develops as a result of exposure to traumatic events such as war and is identified by disturbing or altered thoughts and feelings, mental or physical distress triggered by trauma related cues, increased fight or flight responses, and recurring nightmares for extended periods of time.  Both illnesses are leading causes in substance abuse and suicide cases nationwide.

What can you do to help those who suffer as a result of war while honoring our fallen heroes this memorial day? 

  • Learn how to recognize mental illnesses in your loved one by knowing the signs and symptoms.  There are several resources available for your research such as The American Psychiatric Association, Mental Health America, or WebMD.com where major depression and PTSD are explained.
  • Know how to treat someone who is suffering. Offer unconditional love and support while avoiding trying to fix their problems on your own. Never advise a victim to “snap out of it” or “move on from the past” in these situations.  Be realistic in knowing that these things require patience and understanding and healing takes a very long time for some.  Definitely encourage professional help whenever possible, but do so gently without making a victim feel insulted, judged, or unwanted.  Always express understanding and encouragement as well as acknowledgement that their issues are as real as any other illnesses.
  • Promote and support treatment whenever possible.  Help them to understand that treatment isn’t modifying their personality but can greatly help relieve symptoms.  Offer help with locating a therapist or health care provider, preparing for their appointments, transportation when needed, and tracking symptoms.  Use mild reminders for both medication and motivation when you see they are not having success on their own.
  • Understand the crisis our nation is facing regarding military mental health. According to Dr. Joel Young numerous studies have documented the fact that our service members struggle to access mental health treatment. Dr. Young shares some of the disturbing challenges our military faces when in need of treatment such as professional consequences, inaccessible treatment and the lack of military mental health screenings in his informative article in Psychology Today.
  • Pursue all the resources available to help you help someone you love who is suffering mental illness as a result of time served. Mental Health America offers a comprehensive list of resources you can reach out to on their website (click here for a direct link).
  • Donate to charities that support the well being of our veterans. Here are a few great charities to send your donations to: Wounded Warrior Project, Cohen Veterans Network, America’s Military Charity, American Veteran’s Foundation, or check out this list of recommended charities from “The Street’s” charity watch for veterans.
  • If you believe your loved one is at an immediate risk for suicide, do NOT leave the person alone. In the U.S., dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

We at Close Range Safety Training Academy want to honor our fallen heroes this holiday and every day as well as all who have served in the U.S. Military.  We thank you for your service to our country.  We wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday weekend as you respect and remember our courageous veterans. Please follow our blog for more health and safety tips for you and your loved ones.

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🇺🇸 Veterans, Today We Salute You 🇺🇸

Veterans Day is a time for us to pay our respects to those who have served. Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans–living or dead–but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime. Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. For more on the history of Veterans Day, visit: https://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp

National Veterans Day Ceremony

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The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces.

U.S. Veteran Stats

There are approximately 21 million military veterans in the United States.

16.1 million living veterans served during at least one war.

5.2 million veterans served in peacetime.

2 million veterans are women.

7 million veterans served during the Vietnam War era (1964-1975).

5.5 million veterans served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present).

Of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II (1941-1945), about 620,000 are still alive.

2 million veterans served during the Korean War (1950-1953).

6 million veterans served in peacetime.

As of 2014, 2.9 million veterans received compensation for service-connected disabilities.

As of 2014, 3 states have more than 1 million veterans in among their population: California (1.8 million), Florida (1.6 million), Texas (1.7 million).

 

Are You a Veteran?

You can find a list of national chains and restaurants offering freebies and deals here:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2016/11/10/veterans-day-deals-and-freebies/93552734/

Keep in mind that most businesses require proof of military service, which can include a VA Universal Access Card, Military I.D., DD-214 (Discharge Papers), Veterans Service Organization Card (VSO’s include groups like the VFW, DAV, AmVets, MOAA, FRA, and the American Legion), or in some cases businesses will accept a picture of the veteran in uniform.

Want to Help

To volunteer to help our Veterans, please visit http://www.volunteer.va.gov

From all of us at Close Range Safety Training Academy, we thank you Veterans for helping afford us our freedom and for the sacrifices you have made to aid in our safety.