VA facilities will provide same-day access to mental health care services by December of this year, VA Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald told veterans last week. Speaking on July 27 at the 177th Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, McDonald that the Department of Veterans Affairs is working to streamline and improve its healthcare delivery. A few days later, President Obama told attendees of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Convention that the VA has hired more psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health professionals so that veterans can receive care “in a timely manner.”
On July 7, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs released an official accounting–the most comprehensive examination to date–of veteran suicide deaths, just two weeks before McDonald addressed convention audience members. On average, 20 veterans commit suicide each day. That figure indicates the urgency with which the VA needs to address veterans’ mental health concerns, as well as the aggressiveness with which the Department needs to pursue measures that will reduce the disproportionately high rate at which veterans take their own lives.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 1 in 5 U.S. adults will experience mental illness in a given year, and the statistics among veterans are even more sobering. In the spirit of better serving the mental health needs of our active duty and returning service members, here are several mental health campaigns that are currently raising awareness of this important issue.
ACTIVE HEROES – THE POUND CHALLENGE
On July 27, 2016, Active Heroes, an organization that helps active duty military members, veterans, and their families develop coping skills to prevent suicide, partnered with gym and fitness centers throughout the country to lift more than 20 million pounds. The iron they pumped has raised donations and awareness to help put an end to veteran suicide.
22KILL – #22 PUSHUPS To Honor Those Who Serve
In a similar format to the widely successful ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, 22Kill.com is leveraging social media in their campaign to spread awareness about veteran suicide prevention. 22Kill’s mission emphasizes prevention through veteran education and empowerment. Post a video of yourself doing pushups to social media with the hashtag #22pushups. Every pushup counts!
Other Suicide/PTSD Awareness Efforts Check Out:
Combat Stress is the UK’s leading veterans’ mental health charity.
Irreverent Warriors is a non-profit organization that combats suicide and PTSD through humor and camaraderie.