BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Fighting for our nation’s freedom takes a mental toll many veterans struggle to overcome and a local advocate says Veterans are being mentally impacted by the pandemic and may need a little help to push through.
In 2019, Alabama lost six veterans to suicide, according to the Chief of Mental Health at the Birmingham VA, Dr. Robert Campbell. Campbell said with the added stress of the pandemic, experts expect the numbers to increase nationwide.
“They’re our heroes but they are still human.”
Campbell said like most people, veterans struggled with increased anxiety due to the pandemic, couple that with traumatic experiences from serving and it’s a lot for any person to shoulder.
“This is a double whammy for them to go through this pandemic and see their anxiety increase even more,” Campbell explained.
It’s also troubling because according to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 veterans die every day by suicide. Dr. Campbell said the VA expected the numbers to increase but were working to prevent it by teaching coping skills.
“If you take in a deep breath and hold it for a couple of seconds and then release it. You’ll find that all of your muscles start to relax,” he advised.
Taking deep breaths a couple of times can take your anxiety level down and help you refocus.
Campbell urged the community to do their part as well.
“Call them [a Veteran] up and tell them, ‘thank you, for your service’ tomorrow and help them recognize they are valued for what they’ve done,” said Campbell.
The VA has a special team that works solely to prevent suicides among Veterans.
To all of the Veterans near and far, we at WBRC thank you for your service.