We all can take action to help prevent suicide, but many people do not know what they can do to support a Veteran during a time of crisis.
A simple act of kindness can help someone feel less alone. Suicide prevention can start with one simple act of support; just be there for them and listen.
Veterans and or their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, or send a text message to 838255, or chat online to receive free, confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, even if they are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care.
The responders at the Veterans Crisis Line are specially trained and experienced in helping Veterans of all ages and circumstances — from those coping with mental health issues, to recent Veterans dealing with relationships or the transition back to civilian life.
Since 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered nearly 2.8 million calls and initiated the dispatch of emergency services to callers in crisis nearly 74,000 times. The Veterans Crisis Line anonymous online chat service, added in 2009, has engaged in more than 332,000 chats. In November 2011, the Veterans Crisis Line introduced a text-messaging service to provide another way for Veterans to connect with confidential, round-the-clock support, and since then has responded to more than 67,000 texts.
VA is working to make sure that all Veterans and their loved ones are aware of the Veterans Crisis Line. To reach as many Veterans as possible, VA is coordinating with communities and partner groups nationwide — including community-based organizations, Veterans Service Organizations, and local health care providers — to let Veterans and their loved ones know that support is available whenever, if ever, they need it.
Act Now • Dial 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 to talk to someone • Start a confidential online chat session at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net/chat • Send a text message to 838255 to connect to a VA responder • Take a self-check quiz at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net/quiz • If you or a Veteran you know is in crisis, find a facility near you • Visit www.MilitaryCrisisLine.net if you are Active Duty, Reserve, or Guard
• Connect through chat, text, or TTY if you are deaf or hard of hearing
You are Not Alone – Mental Health for Veterans
Mental Health for Veterans Nearly 1 in 4 active duty members showed signs of a mental health condition, according to a 2014 study in JAMA Psychiatry. On this page, we focus on questions that military personnel often ask concerning treatment resources, disclosure and staying healthy during the transition to civilian life. If you are having thoughts of suicide, the Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7 by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1. Mental Health Concerns There are three primary mental health concerns that you may encounter serving in the military. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Traumatic events, such as military combat, assault, disasters, or sexual assault can have long-lasting negative effects such as trouble sleeping, anger, nightmares, being jumpy, and alcohol and drug abuse. When these troubles do not go away, it could be PTSD. The 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of PTSD to be 15 times higher than civilians. Depression More than just experiencing sadness, depression does not mean you are weak, nor is it something that you can simply “just get over.” Depression interferes with daily life and normal functioning and may require treatment. The 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of depression to be five times higher than civilians. A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is usually the result of significant blow to the head or body. Symptoms can include headaches, fatigue or drowsiness, memory problems, and mood changes and mood swings. Service men and women owe it to their fellow service members to stay in good mental as well as physical health. If you’re concerned about a possible mental health condition—or if you enter the armed forces with a past or present mental health condition—know that the armed forces do not require service members to disclose mental health problems to their chain of command. The responsibility for deciding whether to disclose your condition does fall on the medical officers, and care providers you consult. They receive training on military policies concerning the confidentiality of protected health information (PHI).
Here are some people to consider speaking with if you or someone you know is struggling. Confidential counselors are available for service members and their families through Military One Source at 1-800-342-9647. If you are unsure whether to seek treatment or if you someone you know might need treatment, they are an excellent first stop for information and advice. Primary care providers can be helpful for discussing concerns and treatment options. Behavioral health care providers working at primary care clinics are available on many military bases so you can seek a specialist’s advice without leaving base. Some military bases have convenient Embedded Behavioral Health teams—clinics separate from traditional medical facilities. If you, a colleague, or a family member are experiencing an immediate crisis— particularly if it’s a life-threatening mental health crisis—you should proceed immediately to a military or civilian emergency room for acute care or call 911. https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/ Veterans-and-Active-Duty
Educational Programs for Families, Caregivers and Friends of Military Service Members and Veterans - NAMI Homefront
NAMI Homefront is a free, 6-session educational program for families, caregivers and friends of military service members and vets with mental health conditions.
Based on the nationally recognized NAMI Family-to-Family program, NAMI Homefront is designed to address the unique needs of family, caregivers and friends of those who have served or are currently serving our country. The program is taught by trained family members of service members/veterans living with mental health conditions.
What You’ll Gain
Recovery is a journey and there is hope for all people affected by mental illness. This in-person group experience provides the opportunity for mutual support and shared positive impact. You will experience compassion and reinforcement from people who relate to your experiences. Through your participation, you have the opportunity to help others grow.
NAMI Homefront teaches you how to:
- Manage crises, solve problems and communicate effectively
- Learn to care for yourself, including managing your stress
- Develop the confidence and stamina to support your family member with compassion
- Identify and access federal, state and local services
- Stay informed on the latest research and information on mental health, including posttraumatic stress disorder and substance abuse
- Understand current treatments, including evidence-based therapies, medications and side effects
- Navigate the challenges and impact of mental health conditions on the entire family
What are people are saying?
“You realize that he will never be the same having been through war. I learned how to treat him more as an adult than as a hurt child.”— Mother of a Veteran after graduating from a NAMI Family-to-Family class held at a VA clinic
“We are still friends with everyone that was in the class. There’s always and open ear and an open heart and a shoulder to cry on if you need it.” — Father of a Veteran after graduating from a NAMI Family-to-Family class held at a VA hospital
Sign Up for a Class
3839 Merle Hay Road
Des Moines, IA 50310
Now offered online! We understand that attending an in-person class can be difficult for busy individuals and families. We now offer NAMI Homefront Online. Online classes meet weekly in a virtual classroom, so participants experience the same level of interaction and learning as traditional in-person classes.
Mental Health Facts
Who can be affected by a mental illness? A mental health condition is not the result of one event. Research suggests multiple interlinking causes. Genetics, environment and lifestyle combine to influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events like being the victim of a crime. Biochemical processes and circuits as well as basic brain structure may play a role too. In addition to the person directly affected by a mental illness, family, friends, and communities are also affected.
Adults who experience a mental health condition every year 20%
Mental health conditions that begin by age 14 50%
Those who live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder 5%
Mental health conditions that develop by age 24