Every year on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, America salutes the men and women who have worn uniforms to serve and protect our country.
They are family members and friends. They are in your neighborhood, in the row next to you in your place of worship and in the booth behind you at the restaurant.
Veterans continue to serve in and improve our workplaces, schools and communities. In addition to the strengths they gain from their military service – perseverance, responsibility, mission focus – some may also carry wounds you never see. As is the case for all Americans, Veterans can develop mental health problems that can affect their lives and their relationships with friends and family at times.
The Department of Veterans Affairs places mental health care as one of its top priorities. I hope you’ll take a moment to learn about some of the things we are doing for Veterans. Your awareness of our programs will help you support Veterans you know
Mental health services are available at all of our medical centers and community-based outpatient clinics. At our Make the Connection website, Veterans and their families can watch personal testimonials by other Veterans who found ways to overcome obstacles and improve their lives, like Vernal, whose story reminds us that recovery is possible.
Our Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis or their families and friends with caring responders: 1-800-273-8255. They are there 24/7/365.
Our web site offers key tools to community health care personnel who provide mental health services to Veterans. Here, you can find information on connecting with VA, understanding military culture and experiences, and tools for working with a variety of mental health conditions.
Family and friends can learn how to talk with Veterans about their concerns and treatment options by contacting our Coaching Into Care program at 1-888-823-7458. And we are researching the causes and treatment of PTSD every day at our National Center for PTSD. Find out what we are doing here.
So on this Veterans Day, I hope you will go down to the parade, wave our beautiful flag and applaud our Veterans as they march by.
Then, take the time to discover how you can serve them in return, and help those courageous Veterans in need reconnect with those people and things that matter to them.
Sonja V. Batten, Ph.D., is acting chief consultant for VA’s mental health services