TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Department of Veterans Affairs launched a new program for National Suicide Prevention Month aimed at connecting veterans with support and resources.
The campaign, titled “Don’t wait. Reach out.”, offers resources for veterans dealing with a variety of issues, such as PTSD, substance abuse and financial problems. The campaign also includes specific resources for veterans who are women, LGBTQ+ or people of color, who may face additional barriers to receiving care.
“Veterans are trained, and well trained, to deal with challenges and meet them head on,” Dr. Matthew Miller said. “But veterans are also often last to necessarily take a look at themselves, to take a look at their own needs. To prioritize prevention and maintenance with themselves.”
The campaign allows veterans to view a list of “challenges” and select those they identify with. For example, selecting the “I need help with my drinking, smoking, or using habits” bubble will direct the user towards substance abuse resources, as well as resources for coping with mental health issues.
“Veteran’s need resources that are real world oriented, that are easy to access, and are effective,” Dr. Miller said.
The VA worked with the Ad Council alongside veterans to develop the program and select resources over the past year. The agency said their recent efforts to reach veterans at risk of suicide have paid off.
“Instead of talking about annual increase of 2% or greater, with regard to veteran suicide, we’ve been able to talk about meaningful decreases in veteran suicide,” Dr. Miller said.