Connect with Veterans this Mental Health Awareness Month

This Mental Health Awareness Month, Harold Kudler, M.D., U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ chief consultant for mental health, discusses ways to support mental health recovery and improved quality of life for Veterans.

All too often, we hear or read about Veterans who are in distress or having difficulty adapting to life after military service. Although these stories are troubling, we also know that hundreds of thousands of Veterans are changing their personal headlines by taking steps to live healthy, productive lives with the help of resources that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Service Organizations, and community-based organizations provide.

It is our civic duty to be a support system for Veterans. We can serve those who have served us by sharing their stories of resilience and recovery and by dismantling perceptions of stigma that too often prevent Veterans from seeking support for mental health challenges. Our actions strengthen the already powerful movement of Veterans who are telling their stories of reaching out for help.

Consider Arthur, who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. When he came home from his deployment, he had a hard time adjusting to civilian life but didn’t know how to talk about it. Unable to cope, Arthur fell into a cycle of anger, drugs, and gambling. Eventually, his girlfriend encouraged him to visit a VA doctor who diagnosed Arthur with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Arthur was able to get treatment for his condition and joined a support group for Vietnam Veterans. By connecting with other Veterans, Arthur found the support he needed to change his life for the better.

Trista served 16 years in the Marines, Navy, and National Guard, and experienced military sexual trauma during her service. This resulted in feelings of isolation while she was in the military and outbursts toward her husband after she left the service. With her husband’s encouragement, Trista began seeing a psychologist at VA. That counsel helped her make progress in her recovery. Now, Trista is sharing her story through Make the Connection, and by doing so, she is encouraging fellow Veterans to access similar resources for recovery.

Arthur, Trista, and hundreds of other Veterans and their family members have generously shared their experiences, but reaching other Veterans depends on people like you. Visit MakeTheConnection.net/Connect, where every day during Mental Health Awareness Month you can find new strategies and actions to help make Veterans’ concerns about mental health stigma a thing of the past. This Web portal provides easy-to-share messages and tools that will help improve the lives of Veterans and their families.

The full website, MakeTheConnection.net, features videos of hundreds of Veterans, like Arthur and Trista, talking about the steps they took to lead happier, healthier lives. This unique resource gives a voice to Veterans talking openly and honestly about their life journeys and encourages their peers to do the same. That’s why Make the Connection is so effective — it’s by Veterans for Veterans.

Share MakeTheConnection.net/Connect with the Veterans you know to further their journey toward treatment and recovery.

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