More and more veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn eras have been receiving health care like mental health services through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
It is estimated that the Department of Veterans Affairs serves 8.76 million veterans per year, according to a study from the Committee to Evaluate the Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services. The study, titled “Evaluation of the Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services,” estimates that around 4 million U.S. service members took part in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But shortly after returning from deployment, active-duty service members and veterans began experiencing mental health problems.
Epidemiologic studies on military and veteran populations that served in Afghanistan and Iraq have found that military members who fought were being diagnosed with mental illnesses and experiencing mental health-related outcomes like suicide at a higher rate than the general population.
Results from individual mental health screeners in the committee’s survey found that 23 percent of the veterans screened positive for PTSTD, 16 percent screened positive for major depression and 13 percent were positive on the Kessler six-item measure of general psychological distress. About five percent of those who participated in the survey suffered from alcohol dependence and three percent of survey participants screened positive for drug abuse.
Some veterans have said in the past that it’s a culture shock for some of them to integrate back into civilian life after living a certain type of lifestyle while serving. Outside of services provided by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, there are a number of resources for veterans to turn to if they are struggling with mental health.
For example, a specific social media platform for veterans and active military members works to provide veterans with mental health resources. The Veterans Network was founded by David Pineda, a disabled veteran. Each week, the Veterans Network hosts the “Friday Night Live,” show that features conversations about the military community and more. You can learn more about this resource at veteransnetwork.club.
In Aurora, the Aurora Mental Center has been providing a number of services for more than 40 years. Among those services include family therapy, group therapy, diagnostic evaluation, psychological testing and evaluation and more. You can learn more about the Aurora Mental Health Center at aumhc.org.
About one in five American adults live with a mental illness, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs while more than 1.7 million veterans received treatment in a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ mental health specialty program in 2018.
Veterans who feel like they need to talk with someone about any issue can call the Veteran’s Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and then press 1 or can visit veterancrisisline.net.