The US Department of Veteran Affairs and the Veterans Administration have sent out an email cautioning mental health providers that the withdraw from Afghanistan may trigger PTSD symptoms in our military active duty as well as veterans. The article compares the emotional fallout for veterans returning from the war in Afghanistan to the war in Vietnam. Many military personnel may question their mission in Afghanistan, their sacrifices, and their commitment to serve considering the recent events. They may feel discouraged, defeated, and dishearten and fall into despair. The decisions of others may negatively impact our military personnel and we need to be ready to stand beside them and remind them of the pride we have for them.
We love our military personnel.
We serve them to the best of our ability in order that they may continue to serve our nation. They need encouragement and now more than ever they need to know we as a nation care about them. I recall the Vietnam era and how our military were shamed when they returned from a war that served no purpose. It was sad how they were attacked in airports, spit on, and called names they didn't deserve. Many of our military suffered more pain and heartache upon their return to American than they suffered in the face of war. Let's not repeat history and do this to them again.
How can we support them?
Love them. Embrace them. Cry with them if they need to cry, listen if they need to talk. When they are angry, realize it's not you who they are mad at but the circumstances they cannot control. They are morning the loss of time, the loss of honor, and the loss of friends who gave their lives. They may isolate, drink, or walk away. Get them help as soon as possible if they are spiraling down and out of control.
Here is a list of resources provided by the VA. Call Encouragers if you have questions concerning your specific situation. We are here to serve you.
Resources available right now
For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local VA medical center 24/7 regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care.
VA Mental Health Services Guide - This guide will help you sign up and access mental health services.
MakeTheConnection.net - information, resources, and Veteran to Veteran videos for challenging life events and experiences with mental health issues.
RallyPoint - Talk to other Veterans online. Discuss: What are your feelings as the Taliban reclaim Afghanistan after 20 years of US involvement?
Download VA's self-help apps - Tools to help deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) - Request a Peer Mentor
VA Women Veterans Call Center - Call or text 1-855-829-6636 (M-F 8AM - 10PM & SAT 8AM - 6:30PM ET)
VA Caregiver Support Line - Call 1-855-260-3274 (M-F 8AM - 10PM & SAT 8AM - 5PM ET)
Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes - Join the Community
American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network - Peer Support and Mentoring
Team Red, White & Blue - Hundreds of events weekly. Find a chapter in your area.
Student Veterans of America - Find a campus chapter to connect with.
Team Rubicon - Find a local support squad.