When Sam left the Marines after a tour in Afghanistan, he had a hard time transitioning to civilian life.
“My first deployment was at 19 to Afghanistan, Sam said. “After the 1st deployment, everything is so surreal. When we lost our first guy, and then the second, and then third. Then you start seeing the suicides happening. You have to experience for yourself that it’s real.”
Sam’s story is not uncommon among our America’s heroes returning from war. They put their lives on the line to protect our great nation, and the democratic freedoms we enjoy. Now a national public health crisis is facing our nation, and our veterans need us now more than ever.
“Suicide is the 10th cause of death in our country overall,” Jennifer Haggerty, the Suicide Prevention coordinator for the Bath VA said. “When we are looking at veterans-specific numbers, we are losing about 20 veterans a day.”
Jennifer Haggerty is on a mission to help breakdown the stigma of suicide in our community, and save lives. “I think that suicide is a very personal complex issue,” Haggerty said. “ It looks different for everyone. Out of the 20 veterans, we are losing every day only 6 are linked with VA healthcare. So that means there are 14 veterans in our community who are not getting VA specific care.”
The VA has increased its public health approach to help curb this crisis. Haggerty is working with all sorts of local groups within our community with high veteran populations. Her goal is to educate them and help them recognize the red flags of suicide so they can assist those veterans the help they need.
“I would really want them to know that recovery is possible,” Haggerty said. “90% of people who struggle with suicidal thoughts can fully recover with proper treatment. It’s just determining what that proper treatment is.”
Sam was one of those veterans. He received the treatment he needed from the VA. Now he’s living life as a fireman and is thankful.
Are you a veteran in crisis or concerned about one? Then connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.