As we honor America’s veterans this Veterans Day, we must remember that their sacrifices persist well past their service, and many struggle with wounds not visible to the eye — mental health issues and/or substance use disorder.
When left untreated and without the support they need, some veterans feel so hopeless they take their own lives.
The Defense Department recently reported that suicides among active-duty service members increased by more than 40% between 2015 and 2020 — with an increase of 15% in 2020 alone.
We cannot leave our veterans feeling hopeless and without the behavioral health services they need to lead healthy, stable lives. Fortunately, help is available.
Most importantly, anyone thinking about suicide should call 9-8-8, the national suicide hotline, for immediate assistance. There are also behavioral health providers throughout Florida able to provide services regardless of whether or not a person is insured.
Florida’s seven local Managing Entities work with a network of over 300 behavioral health care providers who deliver services to more than 300,000 of Florida’s most vulnerable residents, including children, expectant mothers, veterans and the chronically homeless.
Behavioral health providers within the network provide services, such as crisis stabilization, care coordination, housing, transportation, and employment. Care coordination is crucial as it ensures that people don’t fall through the cracks as they’re receiving various services to meet their unique needs.
So, while we all gather this Veterans Day to support America’s heroes, let’s remember to support them year-round, not just on one day. America’s veterans have sacrificed so much for us, and we need to provide them with the resources and support they need to lead their best lives.
Natalie K. Kelly is CEO of the Florida Association of Managing Entities.