In or out of uniform, many service members return home to communities where they continue to lead and contribute. For some military personnel, returning home can be challenging. And the impact of deployment and trauma-related stress not only affects military members and veterans but also their families and others who may provide support.
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The 2017 Voice Awards focusing on military and veteran communities struck a chord with me. As a retired captain in the Navy Reserve and the spouse of a U.S. Marine, I know what life in this community is like. I understand the realities, complexities, joys and hardships. But most importantly, I know how resilient this community is. We truly find strength in each other.
At this year’s Voice Awards, I had the opportunity to honor an exemplary group of community champions and entertainment professionals. Through their work and personal stories of resilience, the Voice Awards honorees inspire hope through their efforts to increase understand of behavioral health issues, and make it easier for individuals and families to seek help.
SAMHSA is a proud partner of the National Guard’s Guard Your Health readiness campaign. This month we are pleased to highlight services and support for prevention of substance misuse.
The stress of combat, deployment, frequent moves, or separation from family and friends puts service members at a higher risk for heavy drinking, tobacco use, and prescription drug abuse. Mental health concerns like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury can also increase risk of substance abuse. Even for service members who are not coping with a behavioral health concern, reintegration after a deployment, mobilization, and even drill weekend can be difficult.
Living in a rural area, for all its benefits, can come with some specific challenges. An important one can be access to services such as health care. This can be especially true for specialty services like behavioral health care. Serving those with unique health care needs requires new approaches when large specialty health care providers are far from home. For rural veterans, this means improving access to quality care.
The number of Americans who die by suicide continues to increase. In 2011, suicide accounted for 39,518 deaths in the United States1. In 2012, an estimated 9 million adults, aged 18 and older, reported having serious thoughts of suicide2. The loss of someone to suicide affects family, friends, coworkers, and others in the community. Family and friends may experience a range of painful emotions, such as shock, anger, guilt, and depression3. Yet, this doesn’t have to be. SAMHSA and its partners are working to reduce deaths by suicide nationwide