ST. PAUL (WCCO) Next week, people across the country will honor veterans for Veteran’s Day. Thousands of Minnesota service members coming home from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering in silence.
Two wars raging for almost 10 years has taken its toll on our troops. It’s estimated that a third of the service members who have come home have a mental health diagnosis.
Molly Black is a Sergeant in the Army Reserves and served in Iraq.
“It took a lot for me to come out and talk about the problems I developed while I was over there, PTSD, depression. My friends who were over there with me were the ones who actually sat me down and made me go into the VA to get the help that I needed,” said Black.
Black now offers that same help to other vets. The legislature set aside money to create what’s called a Veterans Peer-to-Peer Project with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
“There’s no doctors, no psychologists, it’s just a group of veterans to get together and talk,” said Black.
NAMI has trained veterans to lead weekly support groups for fellow vets. Sue Abderholden is the Executive Director of NAMI.
“What we’ve seen is the peer-to-peer approach really works. Because it isn’t a mental health professional, it isn’t someone like that, it’s someone who has also been through it,” said Abderholden.
The St. Paul organization realizes it’s tough for veterans to take that first step to find help.
“Their friends and family are going to be the very first people who recognize these symptoms,” said Abderholden.
That’s why NAMI says the support from those closest to a veteran can turn things around.
“NAMI has a real commitment to making sure that whether you are a veteran or whether you’re someone else who’s experiencing mental health symptoms or you are a family member, that there is help and there is hope and you should contact us,” urged Abderholden.
They can be reached at:
NAMI Minnesota (1-888-NAMI-HELPS [6264-43577])
800 Transfer Road, #31
Saint Paul, MN 55114
Veterans considering suicide or their concerned loved ones can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 for veterans.