Suicide among veterans is on the rise. A report issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs states that about 22 veterans die by suicide every day. That’s a rate of nearly one an hour. That’s a rate that is nearly 3 times the civilian population. One lost hero is too many.
Unfortunately, mental illness holds a stigma. If you have a broken leg, you get a cast. If you have a deep cut, you get stitches. However, if you have mental illness, it’s not as easy to get treatment, especially in the military.
The military breeds a culture of stoic men and women; soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen who are brave when fighting for American interests overseas, willing to sacrifice everything for their country. The downside of their bravery is that they also often feel that mental illness will make them look weak. We need to work as a community to find ways to help the hurting.
For many years mental health has been brushed under the rug by some religious communities. People who suffered from severe depression and suicidal thoughts are sometimes made to feel that they just don’t trust God enough, or they should just pray harder. It’s time for religious communities to see that what they are doing now, is often times not working.
Rick and Kay Warren, the founders of Saddleback Church, lost their son to Suicide in 2013. Saddleback has been an influential church to address topics such as HIV/AIDS, alcohol abuse and drug abuse. Since their son’s tragic death, they have launched a new Mental Health Ministry.
Last week Kay invited me and a group of women from all walks of life to a beautiful luncheon. She spoke openly about her loss and it was clear to see how God is using an awful situation to save others. When she spoke, through the tears of her loss, I saw hope in her eyes. Hope that we can help bring change to the stigma of mental illness. She stated “We need to understand we are whole beings. Mental illness needs to be approached by healing the mind, body and soul.”
October 7-9 Saddleback Church is holding The Gathering on Mental Heath and the Church. These three days are packed with practical help and hope for individuals affected by mental illness, their loved ones, church leaders, and mental health professionals (This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ ).
Active Duty and veterans receive complimentary registration to The Gathering. Please call (949) 609-8019 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for your promotional code.
There is hope. There is no reason not to start getting the help you need, or learn how to help others.
The price for the two day conference is $139. Pre-conference is $40. My readers can receive a discount of $30 by entering the PROMO code Hope4Families
If you are a veteran who is unable to attend the conference and need help with mental illness there is help. A great place to start is www.veteranscrisisline.net