Changing the Epidemic of Veterans Suicide
By Verdie Bowen
September 20, 2017
September is Suicide Awareness Month and we can all play a role in preventing suicide, but many people don’t know what they can do to support the local Veterans, Service member, Guard or Reserve member or their families.
I need to address something about this unspeakable epidemic. Did you know if you are one of the above that you are three times more likely to commit suicide than the average citizen? Today, we lose a veteran to this epidemic every 72 minutes, equaling 20 veterans a day. This number is unacceptable and needs each of us working together in order to see this number reduced and eliminated.
The best way we can reverse this tragic number is through knowledge. You have to be aware of the risk factors for someone contemplating suicide, who you can contact, and what you can do to assist a veteran in need.
Common Risk Factors:
One of the best ways to help is listen. I know it is difficult sometimes to just listen without providing guidance but in reality, being heard helps lesson the tensions of life. Next, reach out to old friends. A friendly face and just letting them know you are still there could affect their decisions. Remember, this epidemic is not going to get better until we all take an active role. If you are reading this, you are the most important person in this equation.
In the end please reach out either with your friend or for your friend. The Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans in crisis, and/or their families and friends with qualified, caring VA staff through a toll-free hotline (1-800-273-8255 (Talk), and press 1).
If you just want to stop by my office for a cup of coffee, that’s ok as well. It’s free and either I or my staff will be more than pleased to speak with you. For directions to the office or if you just want to talk, give us a call. Our phone number is 907-334-0874 or toll-free 1-888-248-3682. I believe together we can change the epidemic of veterans’ suicide.
About: Bowen was appointed as the Director of Veterans Affairs for the State of Alaska May 2009 by Governor Sarah Palin and reappointed by Governor Bill Walker February 2015. In this position his responsibilities include the development and the sustainment of comprehensive statewide Veterans Advocacy programs between the veterans of Alaska, the State Legislator, the Governor, and the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs.
Was the text of this letter edited by the SitNews Editor: No
Received September 19, 2017 - Published September 20, 2017
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