HELENA — The Montana VA reports seeing an increase in calls from veterans as the war in Afghanistan ends and the 20th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11 approaches.
“Everyone is talking about it, it's on a lot of veterans' minds and don't feel like you're alone with that. And it's OK to talk about it and get real with what's going on inside of you,” said VA Peer Support Specialist Janie Hall.
Hall is a veteran herself. She compared the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan to the withdraw from the Vietnam War.
“The parallels between Afghanistan and the pullout in Afghanistan and the Vietnam war are... it's very parallel. I know for myself there are things that trigger me that didn't even have to do with me over when in my time overseas. It's real.” said Hall.
Hall says that the support groups that the Montana VA offers for veterans are there to support not just those who served in Afghanistan but every single service member and vet.
“If you're struggling with something or are being challenged with triggers and your past traumas regardless of if you're Korea, Vietnam war, war to Afghanistan or Iraq, Persian gulf, it does not matter, we're here to help you and support you,” said Hall.
The Montana VA health care center at Fort Harrison reports veterans are also calling because they are struggling with the recent surge in coronavirus cases.
“We have noticed an uptick in veterans seeking help to discuss the situation in Afghanistan along with the COVID is now increasing again," said Bob McCabe, the Local Recovery Coordinator for the VA.
Hall reminds veterans that their feelings are valid and that the first step of recovery is talking to someone, including other veterans.
“These concerns are valid, and the more we can talk to each other and rely on each other as veterans. More likely we're going to move forward in our recovery, feel better, and be happy, your mission as a veteran is to stay alive,” said Hall.
She says veterans should remember that they are never alone.
“We need to get the word out to veterans that you're not alone. You're not alone in your thoughts and feelings, your concerns and Montana VA is here to support you,”
If you are a veteran or know a veteran who is struggling with thoughts of suicide call the Veterans' Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press one. Confidential chat is available here or by texting 8382-5 Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year long. For more resources click here.