The U-S Department of Veterans Affairs is launching a new campaign offering support to veterans in need. It is called “The Power of 1” and it emphasizes the effect that just one person, one conversation or one act can have on the life of a veteran or service member.
Dr. Caitlin Thompson is the Deputy Director of Suicide Prevention for the VA and encourages friends and family to know the warning signs. They include a change in mood or behavior, lack of interest, isolation, anger and more use of drugs and/or alcohol.
Dr. Thompson says many of the service members dying from suicide have not been deployed. She says more people commit suicide when they are going through a major transition and that happens frequently for those in the military. Statistics also show that Vietnam War era veterans are at particular risk and more than 50% of veterans that commit suicide are age 50 and older. Dr. Thompson says, “however we also need to be aware of our youngest veterans. Those who are ages 20 to 29 years old. Their suicide rates are increasing very quickly.”
Dr. Thompson says they are committed in helping veterans and military members by getting the support they need. The VA offers a number of programs. All VA Medical Centers, including the facility in Omaha, have a suicide prevention coordinator and they are holding special events and health fairs during September which is Suicide Prevention Month. Veterans and current military members and their families can also get help by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or send a text to 838255. Online chat is also available at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.