The Importance of Mental Health for US Veterans and Their Families
The mental health of our servicemen and women is a critical component of their overall well-being and quality of life, especially as they transition from military to civilian life. It’s not just the veterans who are affected; their families, too, endure significant changes and challenges, often sharing in the mental and emotional toll of military service.
The Mental Health Challenge Among Veterans
Many veterans face various mental health challenges resulting from their time in service. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), depression, anxiety, and suicide are significant concerns within the veteran community. According to a 2014 study in JAMA Psychiatry, nearly 1 in 4 active-duty members showed signs of a mental health condition.
Moreover, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts:
Approximately 11-20% of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom).
Approximately 12% of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans.
About 15% of Vietnam veterans.
Additionally, veteran suicide rates remain alarmingly high. The VA’s 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report revealed that the veteran suicide rate was 1.5 times the rate for non-veteran adults.
The Impact on Families
The mental health of veterans also significantly impacts their families. Spouses and children often deal with changes in family dynamics, financial stress, frequent moves, and the anxiety of having a loved one in harm’s way. They can also face challenges in understanding and coping with a veteran’s mental health issues, including PTSD. This burden can lead to increased rates of anxiety, depression, and even secondary traumatic stress within the family unit.
Resources for Veterans and Their Families
Despite these challenges, help is available for veterans and their families. A range of resources offers mental health support, counseling, and treatment.
Veterans Crisis Line: This is a free, anonymous, confidential resource accessible to veterans and their families 24/7. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, send a text message to 838255, or chat online to receive immediate help.
VA Mental Health Services: The VA offers a variety of mental health services for veterans, including PTSD treatment, substance use disorder treatment, suicide prevention, and more.
Coaching into Care: This VA program helps family members encourage their veteran to seek mental health care.
Vet Centers: Vet Centers provide free counseling to combat veterans and their families, including marriage and family counseling.
Military OneSource: This service provides free counseling for active-duty, Guard, and Reserve members and their families.
National Center for PTSD: This center offers resources for managing PTSD, understanding the condition, and finding a therapist.
In conclusion, addressing the mental health of veterans and their families is paramount. Awareness of the issues, access to resources, and societal support can make a significant difference. If you or someone you know is struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to these resources.
|Veterans Crisis Line||Free, anonymous, confidential resource that’s available to any veteran and their family 24/7.||Visit Website|
|VA Mental Health Services||Provides a variety of mental health services for veterans, including PTSD treatment, substance use disorder treatment, suicide prevention, and more.||Visit Website|
|Coaching into Care||A VA program designed to help family members encourage their veteran to seek mental health care.||Visit Website|
|Vet Centers||Provide free counseling to combat veterans and their families, including marriage and family counseling.||Visit Website|
|Military OneSource||Offers free counseling for active-duty, Guard, and Reserve members and their families.||Visit Website|
|National Center for PTSD||Provides resources for managing PTSD, understanding the condition, and finding a therapist.||Visit Website|