Giving Back to Those Who Give So Much
As we celebrate National Military Families Appreciation Month and Veterans Day this November, Americans will honor and recognize the countless men and women who have sacrificed so much for our military and nation. While we honor their service, this is a good time to learn more about the silent scourge of psychological and mental challenges many veterans face daily.
A Mental Health Crisis
Veterans and their families face a unique and continuing mental health crisis. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, veterans face three primary mental health concerns:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
While anyone can suffer from these conditions, veterans are exposed to them far more frequently than civilians. Roughly one in nine veterans have suffered from PTSD, about double the rate of those who haven’t served. In fact, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found that one in three veterans faced some level of depression and one in five had serious symptoms. In fact, more veterans have committed suicide in the past 10 years than the number of combat deaths in the Vietnam War. And while the rate of suicide declined among veterans in 2019, the last year measured by the VA, it remains double that of the general population.
In the Workplace
As an employer and employee benefits sponsor, there are several steps you can take to help identify and help those who are affected:
- Train your managers to empathize with and to foster open, honest two-way communications with employees;
- Create a work-life balance for your employees with family-friendly benefits;
- Understand that not all employees have the same needs;
- Publicize if you offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP);
- Make employees aware of helpful resources from plan providers, including Beacon Health and Anthem.
Family and friends can also play a role in identifying and helping loved ones with a mental health crisis. They should:
- Note behavioral changes and signs of substance abuse;
- Be a beacon of hope to show there is a light at the end of the tunnel;
- Understand life-saving resources, including suicide hotlines and organizations focusing on the epidemic of PTSD among veterans;
- Take advantage of Military OneSource, a Beacon Health Options company, which offers all active-duty service members and their dependent family members non-medical counseling services free of charge;
- Give to organizations that help veterans, including our charity golf tournaments, which has raised nearly a half-million dollars for them in seven years.
By recognizing our loved ones’ mental health challenges and the resources available to help veterans, we can each give something tangible back to those who continue to give so much—this month and all year round.