Experts advise making Veterans Day one of action to help those struggling

Posted at 5:15 AM, Nov 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 05:15:39-05

Many will take a moment Friday to recognize and celebrate the men and women who have served and fought for our country.

But, experts say, this day shouldn't just be one to pay tribute — they hope Americans will view it as a day of action.

"There are ways we can seek training to become better able to support the mental health of the people around us," said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth of Purdue University.

Each year, more than 200,000 servicemembers transition from active duty to civilian life, becoming veterans. While that's a period marked by a sense of pride for many, for some it can be a time of psychosocial strain that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

PTSD can develop after exposure to a life-threatening or traumatic event. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, vets and active duty servicemembers are dying by suicide at alarming rates.

Women servicemembers, the figures show, are dying at twice the rate of the civilian adult population.

To help this, experts say loved ones play a vital role.

"Family and friends can be a great catalyst to get veterans connected to professional services when needed," said Ian Stanley with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Many veteran mental health care organizations will be participating in Veterans Day ceremonies and parades across the country. They will be looking to provide information on services and volunteer opportunities for those who are interested.

You can also contact your local VA chapter for more opportunities.

Ashley Strohmier reported from New York City.