We hope everyone is having a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. As you grill burgers, hit the beach, or visit with relatives, please take time to remember the servicemen and women for whom this day was established.
At Perry Wellness Center, we want to honor the memories of those who lost their lives in service to our country, but also speak out for the needs of thousands of veterans who are living today with mental health issues because of their own service.
Of the more than 23 million veterans in the U.S. today and 2.2 active duty service members, a large percentage experience one or more behavioral health problems. Consider these facts:
- Over 18% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans now have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or depression;
- About 50% of veterans with mental health problems seek treatment, but only about half of those who seek help get adequate care.
- Over 7% of veterans have significant substance abuse problems.
- In one recent year, mental health and substance use disorders led to more hospitalizations among U.S. troops than any other cause.
- By one estimate, an Armed Forces member commits suicide every 36 hours.
Family members of U.S. military also can suffer negative impacts. Deployed military personnel’s children are more likely to have school problems and emotional difficulties, and Army wives were found to have higher rates of mental health diagnoses.
If we want to honor our living service personnel and veterans, we need to recognize all the sacrifices that have been made. Some wounds may not leave visible scars, but their pain is just as intense. We can honor those whose mental health has been affected by being more aware and helping reduce the stigma that many feel when they acknowledge their problems.
For individuals needing information or assistance, SAMHSA offers a 24/7 emergency line and a variety of other resources on its website.
This message is also brought in recognition of national Mental Health Month.