How To Take Care Of Yourself
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to let your friends know what you need when they ask; they want to help. You can also reach out to confidential 24/7 services like the Veterans Crisis Line.
Find a support group. Talk to other veterans who have gone through the same kind of trauma that you have. You can access groups through your local VA hospital. Alternatively, you can ask about groups through a local VFW or American Legion.
Veterans who are experiencing or are at risk of experiencing homelessness can access confidential services via chat or phone.
Make a safety plan. Have a step-by-step plan ready for if/when you feel depressed, suicidal, or in crisis, so you can start at step one and continue through the steps until you feel safe. Having a template on hand with an established plan may be helpful, or you can get help and guidance at https://www.mysafetyplan.org/.
How To Help
Ask and listen. Be an active part of your loved ones’ support systems and check in with them often. If they show any warning signs for suicide, be direct. Tell them it’s OK to talk about suicidal feelings. Practice active listening techniques and let them talk without judgment.
Get them help and take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid to get your loved one the help they might need. The Lifeline and Veterans Crisis Line are always here to talk or chat, both for crisis intervention and to support friends and loved ones. For additional support, look into https://www.caregiver.va.gov/.
Be there. Everyone deals with pain differently. A simple act of kindness to the veteran or service member in your life can help that person feel less alone.
After 9/11, Michael Liguori joined the Marines to fight for his country. When he returned, he struggled with PTSD and attempted suicide. This is his story.
"I want to share this with you because life is complicated, hard and often, a constant struggle. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone."Read Mike's Story
Max returned from the Marines and sought treatment to combat his internal conflicts. Returning to school and utilizing the support around him was crucial to his recovery.
"You can understand those negative cycles and get out of them and understand that what you went through...you can change that if you're aware of what's happening."Read Max's Story
After her military career, Ashley embarked on a journey to empowerment and validation. She stresses taking the necessary steps to start the path to healing.
"Get the help that's there. The more you talk about it, the easier it is. And the more you talk about it out loud, the more organized the situation becomes in your head. It's not always going to be an easy ride...but if we can take that and not let it bring us down, but rise us up, we can do extremely wonderful things in the world."Read Ashley's Story