By Marsha M. Brown
This is a difficult subject to breach…but have you ever encountered a situation when someone you cared about was in a serious crisis? I’m not talking about them suffering physical trauma or an illness but rather depression, extreme loneliness or feelings of despair that caused you grave concern? If you have, it was no doubt a scary time in your life too.
Being afraid for that person, concerned for their well being and wanting desperately to help them find the support they needed to get through their heartache is extremely important to say the least…it could mean saving someone’s life.
The month of September is VA’s National Suicide Prevention Month and in the most recent September American Legion – The Magazine for a Strong America, Vol. 173 No. 3 – Assistant Web Editor Andy Romey addressed the issue of veteran suicide. According to the article, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta who “testified before the House Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Veterans Affairs in July” said it was an “epidemic”. Further, “that the military needs to promote a culture in which people will get the help they need, emphasize mental fitness”.
Suicide is sad in itself because every life is worth living and every life is worth saving. The term “mental fitness” struck a cord with me, I guess because the demands and challenges enlistees endure in basic training and boot camp are about ‘physical’ fitness rather than the ‘mental’ stamina. Our service men and women depend on strong arms and legs to hold them up, keep them marching, climbing and crawling but what makes everything work comes from the highest point…our brain.
Through GIG LINE I brag on veterans all the time. I emphasize their bravery, their valor, their skill and their sacrifice. I do it mostly because I like to focus on the positive but without a doubt there’s heartache, sadness and depression among the most deserving in our midst.
According to some, depression is a feeling of detachment, disconnect and emptiness. I’m certainly no expert on the matter but I imagine a person probably feels alone with no where and no one to turn to. Thank God that isn’t really the case. Thank God we care about each other want happiness, good health and harmony for each other. We feel that way because we’re Americans and there’s nobody else quite like us. We love and appreciate our veterans, their families and in general our fellow man.
The American Legion article stressed that help is out there “even for those who don’t live near VA facilities”. The contact number for the VA National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255 (TALK) and available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. There’s also a “confidential chatroom moderated by health-care professionals at: www.veteranscrisisline.net as well as a forum for personal stories and resources (maketheconnection.net)”. The very informative piece of writing further recommends a “veteran who feels suicidal or even a little blue, to “call the hotline, log on to chat or visit any VA facility to immediately see a mental health professional”.
For local veterans and others on the Outer Banks who feel a need to reach out and talk to someone who will listen, there is help 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Outer Banks Hotline which has an established Crisis Line at: 252-473-3366. According to Hotline Director Lynn Bryant, Hotline has received veteran calls in the past because of problems finding work, substance abuse and depression. Lynn emphatically encourages all men and women to call the Crisis Line anytime they need someone to talk to regardless of circumstance. All through the night and around the clock there is someone who will “listen” then offer to refer the caller to the appropriate and best source of help for them. Though most people associate Hotline as an organization that offers support to victims of domestic and sexual assault, it is in fact a great source for anyone in a crisis situation…please remember that. Lynn said Hotline’s “networking” and “local connections” encompass excellent resources for mental health counseling in Dare County in addition to designated sources referenced by the VA.
The article offered advice about things to look for in a person you might be concerned about. Some of the typical signs included: when a person “stops planning for the future”; or when they say “it doesn’t really matter if something happens” to them; that they make sure their “finances and wills are in order”; that they talk about death and “what it would be like not to be alive”.
There is no doubt Veterans are our heroes but sometimes they may not see themselves the way we see them. In essence, it’s up to us to be aware, let them know that we do care and that help is available. And…being a friend to someone who needs a friend can be a priceless lifesaving gift.
Our veterans are American treasures and a big part of why we are what we are. Helping them in every way possible through whatever sources available be it medical, mental health, physical rehabilitation, job finds, meeting immediate needs of clothing and housing should be a priority to all of us.
Between now and November there will be several events on the Outer Banks that will emphasize or highlight our veterans. If and when you see the events advertised, please take the time to mark your calendars to attend, offer your help or support and something else too…pray. Like a sign my sweet Billy saw recently, “A.S.A.P.” which meant “Always Say A Prayer”…our veterans deserve countless prayers and blessings too.
Please write me at email@example.com with your thoughts, suggestions and comments. Until next time, be safe, be happy, be proud and stay tuned…