Mental Health Stigma: Veterans Need to Ask For Help

Do you know a veteran or service member who has a hard time asking for help?

Chances are, most of us do. This is common because our military service members are trained to be self-reliant. In many situations, this is a great asset. However, that’s not the case when it comes to mental health.

One in five U.S. soldiers coming back from war in Iraq and Afghanistan have signs of PTSD or other mental distress, studies show. There are many mental health services available to veterans. You can learn about some of the VA’s resources here.

We need to encourage veterans to take advantage of these services and give up the spirit of self-reliance they’ve been trained to embrace.

In a Time article, Rajiv Srinivasan, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and the CEO of the National Foundation for Veteran Redeployment, wrote:  

“The best we can do for our future generation of service members is refine our instruction on what it means to be strong. Sometimes being strong means accepting weakness, even when it’s embarrassing. Sometimes being the good soldier is the one who asks for time off to go see a professional. Sometimes, winning means surrendering. This is the new battle our veterans continue fighting, and as we cheer at parades and wave our flags, let’s all wish upon them the most noble of victories, a noble surrender to themselves.” 

At Veterans Support Organization, we encourage veterans in our work and housing programs to seek out and use the mental health services available to them through the VA and other facilities.

When it comes to mental health, the only way veterans can help themselves is by asking for help. The good news is that military institutions are acknowledging there is an issue, and more soldiers are opening up and seeking assistance. But often times the ones who need treatment the most are the ones who are most resistant to it.

Let’s fight this stigma and encourage veterans to seek help when they need it.

Do you know a veteran who needs mental health counseling? Was it hard to get him or her to get help? Tell us below and we’ll share your stories in future posts.

Richard VanHouten is the founder and CEO of Veterans Support Organization. 

Counseling Services