Surveys show Oklahoma veterans have struggled during the pandemic with their mental health.
“We have seen people come in with greater mental health needs because of the pandemic and then you add on top of it the recent events in Afghanistan and the 9/11 anniversary that just all piles up," said Dr. Sarah Newman, the Chief Psychologist at the Oklahoma City VA.
For many veterans, reaching out can be a struggle. There are many ways you can talk to those you care about.
"Just reach out to another veteran and find peer support. A lot of times when we reach out to other people that makes us feel better so reach out to other veterans," said Newman.
Veterans can also go straight to the VA’s Psychiatric and Mental Health Department for treatment. Oklahoma City has a unique outpatient option available from their mental health intake clinic.
"We know that a lot of veterans have been hesitant to come to the hospital cause of COVID so we want to reach out to them and see if we can help them," said Newman.
Veterans can also go through their primary care doctors for help. The VA has been working to expand to more rural parts of the state.
"We have community-based outpatient clinics in a lot of our rural areas. So those things are ways that veterans can get very quick immediate access especially in times like this when it is very tough for them," said Newman.
With the war in Afghanistan, veterans face new challenges.
"A lot of veterans are wondering, ‘what did my service mean?’ and so a lot of veterans are coming up with their own meaning of what they did and to do those veterans really need to experience their emotions," said Newman.
Here are some tips from the VA if someone you know needs help.
Whether you’re a Veteran or a Veteran supporter, there are many ways to reach out:
VA also has resources to help Veterans transitioning from the military or going through a difficult time in life. VA Solid Start connects Veterans with qualified representatives who call three times during a Veteran’s first year of separation to walk through benefits available. The Self-Check Assessment is a confidential, anonymous risk assessment Veterans can use to help them understand if and how stress and depression are affecting them.
Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can get free, confidential support through the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans where trained counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Veterans do not have to be registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care to contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans.
Veterans and loved ones can also find additional, external resources on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services tool.
For more information and resources, visit Take a Moment — Reach Out (va.gov)
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat. Veterans don’t have to be enrolled in VA health care or registered with VA to use the Veterans Crisis Line.