September is National Suicide Prevention Month, an important time to shine the light on current and former troops who are struggling with depression and other invisible wounds.
Suicide in the military has become a huge issue over the last decade, with the rate of self-inflicted deaths by both active-duty troops and veterans reaching alarming levels.
But if you need help – or know someone who needs help – here is a list of places you can go:
- Military Crisis Hotline: Short of dialing 911 in a life-or-death situation, the military crisis hotline can be your first stop if you or someone you know is feeling severely depressed - even if they just need to talk about what they’re feeling. The phone number is 1-800-273-8255 and you can also chat with them online at militarycrisisline.net.
- PTSD Coach: The Department of Veterans Affairs has a website and app called PTSD Coach that aims to help troops and veterans manage issues like anger, sleep and trauma triggers.
- MilitaryMentalHealth.org: If you’re curious, Military Pathways offers free, anonymous online self-assessments.
- The VA: The Department of Veteran Affairs’ Mental Health page is filled with resources to address a variety of mental health concerns.
- Family readiness officers, family support groups and family support centers: Every branch of the military has family support services. These officers and groups are huge information resources. Contact your command to find out what groups are available for your family.
- Saving Lives Online Event: Military.com is hosting a Google Hangout on Sept. 18 where questions about suicide, PTSD and depression will be answered. You can submit questions in advance here.
The USO – through our programming partners – also offers a variety of resources to deal with post-traumatic stress and depression. Two such programs include:
- USO Caregivers Conferences: Held on or near different military installations around the United States, these USO conferences discuss caregivers’ issues like resiliency, communication, compassion fatigue and how to talk to children after a parent has been injured.
- USO/Stronger Families Oxygen Seminars: This Bothell, Wash.-based nonprofit helps couples – especially military couples affected by injuries or long separations – open the lines of communication. Their Oxygen Seminars have become a key partner program of USO Warrior and Family Care.
Every day, America’s service members selflessly put their lives on the line to keep us safe and free. Please take a moment to let our troops know how much we appreciate their service and sacrifice.
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