AUSTIN – During June, which is Texas Veterans Suicide Prevention and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, Texas HHS is encouraging military veterans to access the resources available to them for suicide prevention and PTSD.
“When a veteran is battling PTSD, not only does it have an impact on them, it affects their families, friends, and communities. Reaching out for help is the first step toward getting support for them and preventing suicide,” said Sonja Gaines, HHS deputy executive commissioner for Intellectual and Developmental Disability and Behavioral Health Services. “We connect veterans to mental health care and other invaluable services that can support them.”
According to the most recent data by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), at least 511 veterans in Texas died by suicide in 2018. That suicide rate is almost double the suicide rate of non-veterans in the state. The VA attributes some of those deaths to the military-related trauma that affects 11 to 30 percent of veterans.
Texas veterans in crisis can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
“It’s important that we know the signs of mental health issues in our friends, family members and others. Also important is helping them to create a safe environment. With education and awareness, we can assist those suffering from mental health issues, help prevent self-destructive behaviors and increase well-being for them and those around them,” said Dr. Blake Harris, Ph.D., director, Veterans Mental Health Department, Texas Veterans Commission.
HHSC administers the Mental Health Program for Veterans, in partnership with the Texas Veterans Commission. The program funds peer-to-peer counseling for veterans and their families through local mental health authorities and local behavioral health authorities.
HHSC also funds and administers the TexVet initiative which includes a website hosted by the Texas A&M Health Science Center. The website helps veterans navigate through resources available in their communities including mental health care providers, social groups, job placement programs, and legal assistance. Veterans can also find additional resources by visiting MentalHealthtx.org/veterans.
About Texas Veteran Suicide and PTSD Awareness Month
During the 86th Legislature, Texas lawmakers and Gov. Greg Abbott designated June as Veteran Suicide and PTSD Awareness Month for a 10-year period beginning in 2019. The awareness month encourages agencies, organizations, and other entities to work together to expand treatment and prevention services for veterans and their families.