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First Lady Jane Beshear Urges Families, Communities to Help Veterans Access Mental Health Services

Monday, 07 01, 2013

Parry Barrows
502-564-2611

Free 24/7 crisis line, coaching service for friends and family are available

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – First Lady Jane Beshear today urged military veterans, their families and communities to  reach out to services available to veterans and active duty service members in need of behavioral health care.

“We give our patriotic support to the men and women who protect this country when they are deployed, but our role as family members and citizens is just as important when they come home, in fact, maybe more so,” said Mrs. Beshear. “When veterans or active duty service members in our families or in our communities need help, we need to step up and get involved.”

Nationally, the number of service member and veteran suicides is rising. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found that an estimated 22 U.S. veterans take their own lives every day.

Kentucky military families have also experienced the grief of veterans’ suicides, the pain of depression and other behavioral health issues that can burden veterans.

Free resources are available not only to veterans and service members, but also to their friends, families, neighbors, and coworkers.  The key, Mrs. Beshear said, is making communities aware of these services so individuals in need can access them easily.

“This is by far the most devastating experience I have ever had in my entire life,” said Carol Cassedy, who recently lost a son – a veteran – to suicide. “However, I can carry on, learning from this dreadful experience I can help other families and prevent this same tragic and irrevocable event from happening to them. My family and especially Sean's brothers and sisters struggle daily with the loss of their brother. We may never know the ‘why’ of this horrible event but we endeavor to heal as a family, go forward and help others.”

The First Lady asks businesses and community members to join the effort to support veterans, whether through forming employee support groups or simply making the effort to show veterans that you recognize their service and value them as employees and neighbors.

“I want to say to every veteran and every family member that you aren’t alone, and you don’t have to suffer,” said Ken Lucas, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs. “Help is here.”

Help for service members and veterans
Multiple free resources are available to veterans, as well as their friends and families.  Individuals can access a national crisis hotline, a coaching program for families to encourage loved ones to seek help, business outreach programs for veterans and community support.

Because timely intervention is the key to saving a life, a free Veterans Crisis Line is available to provide immediate help. Use the line 24 hours a day via phone, text or Internet. Call 1-800-273-8255 (press 1); send a text to 838255.  Confidential online chat is available at www.veteranscrisisline.net.

Coaching into Care is a free service from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, supported by licensed clinical social workers and psychologists. Family, friends and neighbors of veterans can get confidential assistance to figure out how to seek needed services. (http://mirecc.va.gov/coaching/)

Peer support is available. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs encourages veterans and families to “Make the Connection” with other veterans and resources that can help improve their lives. MakeTheConnection.net is a one-stop resource where veterans, families and friends can learn about available resources and support, including mental health treatment options.

This year, the state began the Kentucky Military Behavioral Health Initiative. Its purpose is to collaborate with the federal government and community partners to strengthen behavioral health services for veterans, service members and their families. This effort involves more strategic delivery of services to our military families, therefore increasing coordinated care.

More information about services for Kentucky veterans is available at http://veterans.ky.gov/.

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