August closes, and we look ahead to a vital month: September, Suicide Prevention Month. This month, we shift our focus to address critical issues affecting our community.
Loneliness and isolation, particularly among veterans, demand our immediate attention. At Vets4Warriors®, we are committed to confronting these challenges proactively, preventing crises, and offering steadfast support to our military community.
Loneliness is a mounting concern in the US, exacting a toll on both mental and physical health. The US Surgeon General warns that lacking connections can raise the risk of premature death to levels akin to smoking 15 cigarettes daily. Veterans, transitioning from military to civilian life, often grapple with loneliness and isolation, compounded by mental health issues like PTSD.
Vets4Warriors®, a veteran-staffed peer support network, closely observes this issue. For over eight years, we’ve tracked call reasons, and loneliness and isolation consistently rank among the top five. There was a promising decline year after year. Regrettably, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 reversed this trend. Once again, these issues surged as the primary concerns reported by our callers, underscoring the urgent need for support.
Research shows that regularly confiding in others can decrease the likelihood of developing depression by up to 15% for individuals with traumatic experiences. That’s why our trained peers ensure ongoing connectivity with callers until their concerns are resolved.
We also guarantee anonymity, connecting members of the military community with peers who understand their unique challenges. Our peer support specialists are available 24/7, offering solace, companionship, and providing resources and referrals to callers needing further assistance, guiding them toward community-based support groups, mental health professionals, and organizations tailored to their needs.
For veterans in remote areas or stationed globally, accessing mental health and local support resources can be challenging. That’s why our veteran peers are always ready to talk, regardless of the time or day.
The power of peer connection is astounding. Social connection increases survival odds by 50%, according to the US Surgeon General.
Loneliness poses a significant public health challenge, but with peer support and robust social connections, we can combat this epidemic and build a happier, healthier society.
Remember, you’re never alone on this journey.
To speak with a peer, call Vets4Warriors® at 1-855-838-8255, visit vets4warriors.com/connect, or follow us on social @Vets4Warriors to learn more.
Note: If you’re a veteran in crisis, contact the Veteran Crisis Line at 988.
Maj. Gen. Mark Graham (ret.), Executive Director, Vets4Warriors®
‘Discover the Power of Connection’