PSA campaign urges veterans in crisis to seek support

Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 5:18 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Department of Veterans Affairs is focusing on keeping our nation’s heroes healthy. As part of Suicide Prevention Month, a new campaign encourages service members to seek support before they’re in crisis.

The “Don’t Wait. Reach Out” PSA campaign from the VA and the Ad Council encourages struggling veterans to seek help sooner than later.

“It’s messaging that’s created by, shaped by, and delivered by veterans. So, if you want to know what veterans’ message is, if you want to know what’s on their minds, it’s ‘Don’t Wait, Reach Out,’ said Dr. Matthew Miller, executive director of VA Suicide Prevention for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He says veterans are trained to meet challenges but they also are the last to take a look at what their needs are individually. Miller is a veteran himself and says civilian life can cause stress, like getting a credit card denied or sleep deprivation. “In a lot of ways veterans are treated as heroes and role models and that’s nice, that’s a good thing, but in another way they face real-world problems, ones that they never anticipated they’d be facing.”

According to the latest VA data, the number of overall suicides rose in the U.S. from 2001 to 2018, with a dip from 2018-2019. Veterans made up nearly 14% of all U.S. suicides in 2019. While some progress has been made, Miller says more work needs to be done to help veterans access services. “24/7, 365 -- veterans, people who care about veterans, can reach us at the Veterans Crisis Line by dialing 988 and pressing 1. If text is preferred, you can dial 838255,” he said.