The Lead

Preventing veteran suicide this holiday starts with a caring message

By: - December 8, 2021 4:57 pm

(Wolf administration graphic)

The Pennsylvania arm of a nationwide initiative to prevent suicide among military veterans, service members, and their families is encouraging Pennsylvanians to send a “caring message” to veterans and service members this holiday season. 

The Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and Their Families, a suicide prevention initiative underway in 35 states, including Pennsylvania, is asking veteran advocates, healthcare providers and the public to send a caring message to veterans and service members in an effort to remind veterans that they are not alone this holiday season. 

 “Anyone who knows a veteran can send a caring message, but it is especially important for veteran advocates and health care providers who regularly see veterans to take the time to reach out with any form of positive communication,” Rick Hamp, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Challenge team lead, said in a statement Wednesday. 

In a statement from the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Hamp said that the holidays can be “exceptionally depressing” for some veterans. 

Military veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than Americans who never served in the military. Female veterans, are more than twice as likely to die by suicide, the DMVA reports. 

A caring message can be in the form of a letter, text, email or phone call, Hamp said, adding that the message can be just as simple. 

“A caring message could be as simple as: ‘It was great to see you today. I am looking forward to your next visit,’” he said. 

Pennsylvania holds the fourth largest veteran population in the country – nearly 800,000 veterans, according to the DMVA.

“It is important for everyone who knows a veteran to let that veteran know how much you care about them,” Hamp said. “Simply reminding a veteran that they matter, especially one who might be in crisis, can be lifesaving.” 

Veterans in crisis should call the 24 hour Veteran Crisis Line at: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

How to support Pa.’s veterans and service members this holiday season

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