Veteran’s Day, which is Nov. 11, is a time to honor all those who have served in the military during times of peace as well as war. More than 41 million Americans have served, over 200,000 of them being South Dakotans.
“This Veterans Day, I challenge all of you to find a veteran, extend your hand, and thank them for their service,” said Veterans Affairs Cabinet Secretary Greg Whitlock. “Write a note of thanks, perform a random act of kindness, or donate to a charity on their behalf. Let us never forget the sacrifices our veterans and their families have made. Let us never stop trying to build a better world. And let us all draw strength from our veterans’ long legacy of service.”
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs reports that in 2020 there were 26 veteran deaths by suicide out of 177 total suicides in South Dakota, meaning that about 15% of South Dakota suicides were amongst veterans.
“As we take pause to remember those who have served in uniform, we also encourage South Dakotans to pay special attention to the mental health of our veterans,” said Department of Social Services Cabinet Secretary Matt Althoff. “Veteran’s Day can be difficult for some who served as the day can trigger distressing memories of particularly-difficult times in their service. For those affected by PTSD, this week’s commemoration can cause an increase in their re-experiencing of past traumas, causing them to be preoccupied by thoughts about moments in their past they would otherwise prefer to forget.”
If you have a loved one who is a veteran or are a veteran yourself, mental health resources including supports are available. Whole health includes all of you: body, mind, and soul. Mood and how we think can either positively or negatively impact health and well-being. The first step is knowing that you are not alone and it is okay to ask for help.
For immediate assistance, the Veterans Crisis Line offers 24/7 free and confidential support for veterans, service members, and their families. Dial 988 then press 1; text 838255; or chat online. If you are overseas, the chat option is also available, and direct numbers can be found here.
Additional resources available to veterans, service members, and their families include:
- To find a local mental health provider in your area, visit dss.sd.gov or call the South Dakota Treatment Resource Hotline at 1-800-920-4343. Services can be in person or via telehealth and financial assistance is available.
- If you are a veteran or a family member of a vet facing challenges in your everyday life, connect with stories of help and hope at maketheconnection.net.
- Military OneSource at militaryonesource.mil provides 24/7 support to service members and family members for non-crisis concerns, such as relationship, family, or financial challenges.
- Department of Veteran Affairs has a variety of mental health resources, information, treatment options, and more at mentalhealth.va.gov.
Original article from DSS published 11/7/23