VA and Vet Center Provide Resources for Veterans in Crisis

Local News

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Suicide is a global health issue. About 800,000 people die by suicide every year around the world, according to the world health organization.

In the United States, suicide rates are rising. In 2018, a little over 48,000 people died by suicide. Veterans die by suicide at a rate 1.5 times higher than non-veterans, according to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“When you’re confronted with something that upsetting, traumatic…. Seeing the death of your friends, seeing civilians get killed, seeing things people shouldn’t have to see. It leads to people having nightmares, having difficulty sleeping,” says David Hildebrandt, the Director of Vet Center.

In Grand Junction, organizations like the Vet Center and the V.A. Work to help veterans at risk of suicide. They offer services like readjustment and mental health counseling.

“Challenges are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan,” says Hildebrandt.

But you don’t have to be a health professional to help. The V.A. also has a free course called “S.A.V.E.” that people can take to learn how to help veterans at risk. And during the pandemic, it can be taken online in the comfort of your own home.

“I had a veteran who I felt was in crisis, so I called the crisis line and they helped me help the veteran find the resources she needed in order to get back on her feet,” says Stacy LeGrand, the Veterans Specialist with the Volunteers of America.

With these programs, healthcare professionals, community members, and veterans themselves can work together to save lives.

“There’s a lot of resources out there and there are a lot of people in this valley who do care and want to help the best that they can,” says LeGrand.

If you’re a veteran in a crisis, call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. You can also text 838255.

If you would like to take S.A.V.E, contact Rainy Reaman at: rainy.reaman@va.gov.

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