Natalia Velásquez, M.S., Outreach Coordinator | Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)
Thirty percent of active duty members and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan show signs of a mental health condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and traumatic brain injury. It should be noted that this statistic doesn’t include the many veterans who served in the Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf Wars and have also experienced tremendous mental health difficulties.
Although there are many significant challenges that may stem from military service and adjusting back to civilian life, less than 50 percent of returning veterans who are in emotional distress receive mental health treatment. Approximately 22 veterans die by suicide every day. Many veterans may be reluctant to seek help, as it is common for veterans to experience personal embarrassment about service-related mental difficulties, fear of being seen as weak, and concern regarding mental and physical readiness for duty.
Therefore, it is extremely important for both civilians and fellow veterans to be active in helping to change these statistics by being aware of warning signs, reaching out to veterans in need, and supporting those who may be suffering in silence to seek additional help. This is one meaningful way that civilians and fellow vets can practice “Having your six” or “Having your back”.
Veterans in emotional distress and/or crisis may show the following warning signs:
- Appearing sad or depressed most of the time
- Hopelessness, such as feeling like there’s no way out
- Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings
- Feeling excessive guilt, shame, or sense of failure
- Rage/anger and showing violent behavior, such as getting into fights
- Engaging in risky or self-destructive activities, such as alcohol/drug abuse, weapons, etc.
- Losing interest in hobbies, work, or school
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Feeling as if there is no reason to live
- Talking about death, dying, or suicide
- Giving away personal belongings
- Getting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, or writing a will
If you are concerned about a veteran in your life, the most important thing you can do is check-in with how they are doing, listen patiently without judgement, and offer some reassurance that you are there for them. This may include encouraging them to seek out professional mental health services, helping them find a veteran support group, or even just inviting them to spend time with you.
If you are a veteran experiencing any of the above symptoms, please remember you are not alone. There are many evidenced-based treatments that can help you learn how to cope with the challenges of military and civilian life and any emotional difficulties that you may be experiencing.
On behalf of CAPS, we would like to extend our immense gratitude to all veterans and military families for the valued sacrifice and service you have made and continue to make for our country. Your courage, dedication, and selflessness do not go unnoticed and are greatly appreciated! Join us in thanking a veteran in your life today! This could be as small as calling someone to let them know you are thinking about them or inviting them for a meal.
If you are a veteran, please take some time to honor yourself and other fellow veterans for the incredible hard work you all do. This could be as simple as taking five minutes to reflect on what you have done for our country or using Veteran’s Day to engage in self-care (e.g., hobbies, socialization, favorite foods, etc.).
If you are a student veteran and find yourself suffering in silence, we got your six! Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is your student counseling center and we are here for you! CAPS provides a variety of mental health and wellness services to assist you and other students in successfully reaching personal, academic, and career goals. Please take a moment to visit our website: https://www.fit.edu/counseling-and-psychological-services/ to learn more information on how to request services and find resources for psychological health and well-being. Be the healthiest Florida Tech Panther you can be!
Veteran Crisis Line:
- Call at: 1-800-273-8255
- Text at: 838255
Chat online at: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/chat