The Situation In Afghanistan Is Distressing For Many. Here Are Resources For Veterans In Crisis In LA County
Feelings of frustration, sadness, anger and betrayal, increased symptoms of PTSD or depression. These are just some of the reactions that mental health experts say U.S. military veterans may experience in response to the recent events in Afghanistan.
"Devoting literally your life and having so many friends and colleagues engaged in a serious effort ... and then having that effort, at some level, feel like it's being disregarded and that it didn't matter, that's a big challenge to a belief system, and ... can lead to an existential crisis," said Dr. Jonathan Sherin, director of L.A. County's Department of Mental Health.
Dr. Sherin says it's not just veterans who served in Afghanistan who may have these types of reactions. All service members — active duty, reserve, and veterans of other conflicts — may experience similar emotions.
"Vietnam vets, many of the Vietnam-era service members, were quite distraught at the beginning of these endless wars over the past couple of decades," he said. "And now what they're seeing is kind of their concerns coming to fruition. And you can only imagine how that feels."
One of the most important things a person can do, if they're feeling any kind of distress, he said, is to connect with someone they trust, "to speak with about their issues and about their pain, and not to become isolated because isolation is a dangerous thing."
There's help available at L.A. County's veteran-run Veteran Peer Access Network, which connects veterans and their families with support.
Veterans, their family and friends can also call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255; they can chat or text with someone at VeteransCrisisLine.net.
- Strategies for managing ongoing stress, from the VA
- Women Veterans Hotline: 855-829-6636
- Vet Center Call Center: 877-WAR-VETS (927-8387)
- Veterans can contact a Military & Veterans Affairs Veteran Service Officer directly by calling (877) 4LA-VETS, (213)765-9680 or (213) 765-9681 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org