This week, September 8-14, is National Suicide Prevention Week. As a military veteran, that cause is near and dear to my heart.
The statistics surrounding the mental health epidemic of military veterans are well defined. Among the states that report, there are 22 veteran suicides a day. With states like Texas, which houses a large number of veterans, opting to not report, that number is probably higher.
With the possibility of the US pulling thousands of troops from Afghanistan on the near horizon, the mental health of our military is topical and important to discuss. Especially this week.
Today I’d like to take up a minute of your time to highlight one of my favorite projects tackling veteran mental health – Headstrong.
If you visit Headstrong’s website, which I strongly suggest doing, you’ll see a (in my opinion) shocking stat on their homepage: “For every soldier we have lost in combat, 25-30 take their own lives.”
The project was started by two men who came back from Iraq and soon realized they were losing more soldiers to suicide than they lost in battle. The enemy is internal.
Mental health is still very stigmatized in the military today. It shouldn’t be. Officers who get the courage to confess that they are struggling with PTS often get discharged.
The two men who started Headstrong were lucky and had access to some of the best healthcare in the world. They asked themselves: “How do we make sure this is available to our post 9/11 veterans?” At that time, wait lines at the VA could be months. You can’t exactly hide suicidal tendencies for that long. So Headstrong created a program for accessible, real time, free, top notch mental health services. Most importantly, the care provided is completely confidential.
With exceptional doctors on board – both for the cause and because they’re still getting paid full dollar, no cut corners – Headstrong has been an incredible success. Hundreds and hundreds of veterans have signed up, and Headstrong has impressive success rates.
As far as suicide prevention goes, I can’t think of anyone who is doing it better than the team at Headstrong.
It takes about $5000 to treat a veteran. This National Suicide Prevention Week, consider donating to the cause.