This week the Oklahoma Veteran Alliance is bringing attention to what they say are increasing rates of veteran suicide.
The Alliance said in the last year veteran suicide rates are rising as the pandemic, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and other mental stressors take a mental toll.
The OKVA says on average 17 veterans a day are committing suicide due to the toll it takes to return from having a role in the military. Rachel Runfola with the Community Service Council said not only are newly returned veterans struggling, but those who have been home for decades are struggling with long-term mental health issues.
Runfola tells us communities need to start better understanding what mental challenges their veterans are facing to make sure they can help veterans know what resources and events are available for them.
“Just spend time where they can talk about what’s going on, vent, do whatever they need to do,” Runfola said. “Have that time to find out that there are people out there that care about them and want them to be successful.”
OKVA said the more social opportunities veterans get, the more likely they are to feel supported and connected to those around them and can help them through the pain they are dealing with.
“Reach out to them ask them how they’re doing, do they need anything, do they want to go get a cup of coffee, that is all it takes, and just that few moments of time can really lift a person’s spirits,” Runfola said.
The Oklahoma Veteran Alliance is having its Second Annual Veterans dinner this Friday night to raise money to help resources to veterans across the state. You can purchase a ticket through Monday night by calling 211 and asking to speak with OKVA about purchasing a ticket. Or CLICK HERE