The holiday season is in full swing. With reminders of hope, love, and friendship, it can be hard to spot that this season can also be filled with sadness. For our veterans, the holiday season can be difficult. Whether it be being away from families on deployment, or not having families to come home to, veterans all across our country battle with difficult thoughts, including suicide.
According to a study conducted in 2013, 30 in 100,000 service members and veterans were more likely to commit suicide versus 14 in 100,000 civilians during the holiday season. These statistics are sobering. Christopher Cadeau, a veteran and Arizona State University student, has a message that could help everyone to start the discussion on veteran suicide: “Just get out there and help someone. … As long as you’re helping someone, you’re on the right track.”
Cadeau’s words do ring true. While it may be difficult to squeeze in time in your schedule this holiday season to help someone in need, something as quick as a phone call or text message saying that you’re thinking of a person in need can make a difference. Some other ways you can help during the holiday season include:
- Adopting a Veteran-you can check with local VA homes to see if there are any veterans that do not have family nearby and take them in to celebrate the holidays with your loved ones.
- Volunteer with veterans organizations, local schools, and other groups to hold events to bring together veterans to make them feel like they are part of something.
- Finding transportation for a veteran for their appointments or getting them help with housing could help ease troubled thoughts during this season.
The main thing that you can do during this season is letting a veteran know that you care. Whether it be by volunteering to help them with something around the house or just having a quick phone conversation to hear about their day, connecting with a service member who is feeling suicidal can help make the difference.
For resources about how to handle Post-Traumatic Stress that could be contributing to suicidal thoughts, please click here. If you or someone you know is battling suicidal thoughts this holiday season, know that you are not alone. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is also a resource. Their staff works 24/7 to help those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. You or your loved one can call 1-800-273-8255 and press option 1 to speak with someone.
The holidays can be hard for our active-duty military and veterans, but we can help ease the struggles that they face. The men and women who keep our country and freedoms protected deserve that, and deserve our help and support. The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to helping every single man and woman who has served our country. It is our mission to help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one. You can show your support for these brave men and women by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure that ALL of our veterans are able to get the support that they need and deserve.