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VA Commissioner Highlights Programs to Combat Suicide Among Veterans

Photo by Tyler Antrim

A lot of attention has been paid lately to troops coming home from Iraq now that the war is over. 

But thousands of soldiers who have served post 9-11 are home already and many continue to struggle in civilian life.  One of these struggles is combating suicidal thoughts.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs finds that eighteen veterans die by suicide each day. In Connecticut, Commissioner of Veterans Affairs, Linda Schwartz says in the last year, an estimated fourteen veterans in the state committed suicide. But she stresses suicide is often underreported.

"We know that a lot more people have committed suicide but are not reported that way out of respect for the family and religious convictions people might have."

Schwartz says there are several programs to help service-members who are having a hard time transitioning to civilian life.

Connecticut runs a 24/7 hotline called the Military Support Program that connects a veteran with a clinician and other services. But Schwartz says often times it's the family of a veteran that notices warning signs and can help a servicemember who may not want to ask for help. She says that's where the federal VA program called Coaching into Care comes in.

"It's a new program that they say is helping families that recognize that there are some difficulties and don't know twat to say to their veteran.  So they can call this line and talk to counselors and clinicians about what's the best way to reach out and help the veterans and try to shepherd them into care."

Families of veterans can contact Coaching into Care at 888-823-7458

The 24/7 hotline for the Military Support Program is 866-251- 2913

Residents can always dial 2-1-1 to find out about other programs, ask the operator for military and veteran listings. 

And to reach the Connecticut VA, dial 866-928-8387.