This Mental Health Awareness Month, VA Chief Consultant for Mental Health, Harold Kudler, M.D., discusses ways to support mental health recovery and improved quality of life for Veterans.

All too often, we hear or read about Veterans who are in distress or having difficulty adapting to life after Service in the military. Although these stories are troubling, we also know that hundreds of thousands of Veterans are changing their personal headlines by taking steps to live healthy, productive lives with the help of resources that VA, Veterans Service Organizations and community-based organizations provide.

I believe that each of us has a responsibility to broadcast these stories of resilience and recovery — and, in doing so, strengthen the already powerful movement of Veterans who are seeking support and in the process, inspiring other Veterans to reach out. When we help share their stories, we join them in dismantling stigma which prevents so many others from seeking support for mental health challenges.

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Consider Arthur, who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. When he came home from his deployment, he had a hard time adjusting to civilian life but didn’t know how to talk about it. Unable to cope, Arthur fell into a cycle of anger, drugs and gambling. Eventually, his girlfriend encouraged him to visit a VA doctor who diagnosed Arthur with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Arthur was able to get treatment for his condition and joined a support group for Vietnam Veterans. By connecting with other Veterans, Arthur found the support he needed to change his life for the better.

Or Trista, who served 16 years in the Marines, Navy, and National Guard and experienced military sexual trauma during her service. This resulted in feelings of isolation while she was in the military and outbursts toward her husband after she left the service. With her husband’s encouragement, Trista began seeing a psychologist at VA. That counsel helped her make progress in her recovery. Now, Trista is sharing her story through Make the Connection, and by doing so, she is encouraging fellow Veterans to access similar resources for recovery.

Though Trista, Arthur and others have generously shared their experiences, connecting other Veterans with their stories depends on people like you. Visit where every day during Mental Health Awareness Month, you can find new strategies and actions to help make Veterans’ concerns about mental health stigma a thing of the past. This Web portal provides easy-to-use messages and tools that will help improve the lives of Veterans and their families. The full website,, features hundreds of Veterans like Trista and Arthur talking about their experiences and the steps they took to lead happier, healthier lives. I’m proud to share this unique resource which gives voice to Veterans talking openly and honestly about their life journeys and encourages their peers to do the same. That’s why Make the Connection is so effective — it’s by Veterans for Veterans. Please help us all Make the Connection!

Connect with the movement of Veterans who are speaking up about their mental health challenges and their journeys toward treatment and recovery. Visit and hear how hundreds of Veterans have found support to improve their lives.

Kudler, Bio SES EQVDr. Kudler serves as VA’s Chief Consultant for Mental Health Services. He received his M.D. from Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, trained in Psychiatry at Yale and is Adjunct Associate Professor at Duke.  Dr. Kudler co-chaired VA’s Special Committee on PTSD which reports to Congress and founded the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies’ (ISTSS) PTSD Practice Guidelines taskforce and has served on the ISTSS Board of Directors. Dr. Kudler co-led development of the joint VA/Department of Defense Guideline for the Management of Posttraumatic Stress and serves as advisor to Sesame Street’s Talk Listen Connect series for military families.


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Published on May. 4, 2015

Estimated reading time is 3.3 min.

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