With a growing number of veterans returning from deployments in the Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the United States often finds trouble in providing benefits for all its individuals who served. Between the years of 2001 and 2005, 103,788 US veterans were screened through the Department of Veterans Affairs often finding mental illnesses among veterans including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and traumatic brain injury. While on deployment, servicemen receive much of their support from their military comrades and superiors resulting in often not knowing who to go to when they come back home due to the sensitive or even crude material that may bother them. Friends and family of the veterans are often the first to notice when the veteran is having a tough time adjusting and it can be difficult to know how to help and how to act accordingly to provide support.
Along with the Department of Veterans Affairs supporting veterans in their time after service by providing benefits and support, the department also reaches out to the families of veterans to be proactive in terms of supporting and looking after their veterans’ mental health. Coaching Into Care is a national telephone service of Veterans Affairs which strives to educate, support and enable family members and friends of veterans who are seeking care. The goal of Coaching Into Care is to help veterans and their families find the appropriate services at their local Veterans Affairs facilities. Last year the Veteran Crisis Line, which is a hotline that often connects veterans, friends or families to Coaching Into Care. Veterans Crisis Line dispatched emergency respondents an average of 30 times a day and made 80,000 referrals to suicide prevention coordinators at Veterans Affairs facilities.
Of the tens of thousands of veterans referred to suicide prevention coordinators at Veterans Affairs, one individual was saved once he threatened to jump from a tenth-floor balcony the day before his wedding, resulting in multiple law enforcement responses. For this individual’s mother, it was “an absolute nightmare scenario.” After this terrifying experience that lead to Julie, the mother, being aware of her sons’ mental state, she called Veterans Affairs Crisis Line and was referred to Coaching Into Care. Julie explicitly remembers, “the incredible woman I worked with was Dr. Cindy Swinkels. She explained how vital the family connection was and to keep that communication going so that we could ease our way into helping my son. Without her, we would have been lost and in all probability my son would be dead.” After talking with VA doctors, Julie is learning how to work with her son to help him make the choice to engage in treatment. I believe that all veterans should be able to find the same help that Julies son found before it takes a toll on their body or mind. Of the 103,788 US veterans screened between 2001 and 2005 at Veterans Affairs facilities, 31% of these veterans received mental health or psychosocial diagnoses. The mental state of the ones who served our country deserve the highest potential of health care but are often stripped of these rights due to the falsifying of records and prolonged wait times throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Below is a link to a video of Coaching Into Care conducting a Facebook chat with Wounded Warrior Project about helping military veterans seek services for recovery.