Help for Today’s Service Members
At least 26 organizations exist to help veterans transition to civilian life in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Many more are scattered across the country. Counseling, financial help, VA claims assistance, job training, education, and other supports are available.
The good news is that progress is being made. Veteran incarceration rates are at all-time lows. Homelessness among vets is declining. But there’s still work to be done. These support organizations exist in silos, rarely considering the whole picture for each individual veteran. Additionally, vets don’t always seek the help they need.
PTSD isn’t more common now than it was in the past. We just know more about it and there are more places to get assistance. However, stereotypes surrounding mental illness persist. Veterans who are used to being “tough guys” in active duty often fail to ask for help for fear of consequences, such as loss of security clearance. Many don’t want to appear weak among peers or their families. Suicide, substance abuse, anger issues, and incarceration are still far too common among today’s veterans.
System-wide Change is Needed
Additional advocacy is needed to raise awareness about difficult issues facing service members and their family members, mental illness in particular. While programs and support groups are part of the solution, legislation and system-wide changes are necessary to ensure more vets get the help they need.
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