19 December 2023- As the holiday season approaches, don’t forget about some of those who have the most trouble during the holiday season; our state and nation’s veterans.
The holiday season can be exceptionally stressful for some veterans dealing with military-related mental health challenges such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Military veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than Americans who never served in the military. For female veterans, the risk factor is 2.2 times more likely.
“Taking the time to reach out to a veteran can not only make their day but it could save their life. A Caring Message might seem like a small gesture, but it will have a positive impact,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the PA DMVA. “Anyone with a connection to a veteran can send a Caring Message, including family members, friends, advocates and health care providers.”
A caring message can take the form of a holiday card, letter, text, email, phone call, or any communication.
Schindler said that current service members and their families should be thought about, too, and that it is important to send Caring Messages year-round, not just during the holidays.
Pennsylvania serves more than 700,000 veterans, the fourth largest veteran population in the country. It is one of 54 states and territories taking part in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among our Service Members, Veterans and their Families.
The Pennsylvania Governor’s Challenge team works with sister agencies and departments, several educational institutions, and a broad group of not-for-profit and faith-based organizations to develop and implement statewide and regional suicide prevention best practices.
Another resource available to veterans facing challenging times is DMVA’s PA VETConnect, an outreach program that enables the DMVA to concentrate services from within communities where our veterans live. This initiative allows the DMVA to utilize community-based providers to fill gaps in services for homelessness, employment, mental health, addiction and more.