Help available for vets struggling after Afghanistan exit

Local News

LA CROSSE, Wisc. — Data from veteran crisis hotline call centers shows an uptick in calls from those who served in Afghanistan, according to Dr. Shelley Amen.

“This is something that’s bringing up a lot of emotions, a lot of confusion,” she said of the US departure from the region. “It’s brining back memories for a lot of people.”

The West Allis native served in the US Army as a parachute rigger. Now, she is a VA psychiatrist who teaches at Yale School of Medicine. She said healing is possible, and fellow vets are ready and available to help those struggling.

“It’s a brotherhood, a sisterhood,” she said. “We’re here for everyone, and there’s such a gamut of resources.”

Amen said suicidal thoughts should be treated as an emergency.

“Folks who feel thoughts to end their life, this is just as much an emergency as a fire in your kitchen or a heart attack where you would have a perfectly legitimate reason to call 911 or the fire department and get them over to help,” she said. “Suicide is the same way it is a legitimate emergency. there are things we know that can help. It often passes, in time, and it feels like you know we really need to escape a situation, and sometimes we don’t know there are other ways. So go into that day, prepared with a structure with some support and taking care of yourself, taking care of each other.”

Amen also said it is important to start planning now for next Saturday’s 20th memorial of 9/11. She suggested making and sharing plans with others, getting out of the house, and possibly getting alcohol and/or guns out of the house in advance if necessary.

For help, call the Veteran’s Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255, and press 1 for a trained responder.

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