With stories about our active military not seeking care, that leaves the door wide open for Veterans that need mental health care after their service. I spent 20 years in the US Army and am well aware of the stigma of seeking care can bring. For me, it was not only mental health care, but any care. I took more Motrin than I likely should have to “suck it up” and keep moving. Ruck up, head down, brain off, one foot in front of the other. I am sure many had nice cushy desk jobs like I did at the end of my service, but the first half of my time, I was a bit intense. Trying to live up to the rest of the warriors around me, I pushed myself hard enough physically to be paying for it today.

The other part of our body that we rarely speak of is mental health. It is no wonder considering the perception it has among Americans. Most “people” do not want to share that they need help. They sure do not want to risk a security clearance, a credit rating or whatever urban myth may lurk to satisfy our need to deny help. Yes, it is convenient for Veterans and soldiers to deny help. I mean, who really wants to anyway? I do not want to get my blood drawn to check my cholesterol, I sure do not want to talk about insecurities or sensitivities and admit I am not in control of my emotions.

As you may have guessed by now. I waited several years after the military to “seek” help. I finally realized that I needed to be healthy emotionally and physically. Not just for myself, but for my children and even fellow Veterans. Yes, after my third marriage, poor relationships, anxiety attacks that felt like heart attacks, I finally sought help. I will not lie, it was not easy. Telling anyone secrets that you do not want to hear yourself is not easy. However, there is help. If you have served in a combat zone– you and your family are eligible to seek care at a VA Vet Center. If you or your family member even thinks, you have PTSD, MST or any mental health concern, call to speak confidentially with a Vet Center Counselor at any time around the clock call: 877-WAR-VETS (927-8387). With centers located nationwide, you will find one near you. There is no shame in seeking help.

“One must really have suffered oneself to help others.”
~Mother Teresa



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Published on Jan. 29, 2013

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