Deservingly so, veterans are celebrated and championed within many communities. However, they can also experience increased risks for addiction, mental health disorders, and suicide. Veterans have lived through many difficult challenges and traumatic experiences that impact their physical and mental health in long-lasting ways. Finding professional treatment to overcome these lingering effects is necessary for establishing veterans’ well-being. Dedicated veteran treatment is essential in combatting the use of addictive substances and suicidal ideation. Likewise, it can also help veterans process trauma to create a healthy new perspective in civilian life.
Suicide Among Veterans
Suicidal ideation is exceptionally prevalent among veterans. Despite the personal challenges suicidal ideation presents, suicide does not only affect one individual. Rather, it affects entire families and communities. While anybody can be at risk of suicide, increased risk factors include:
- Individuals who have experienced extreme violence and trauma
- Individuals who have experienced sexual trauma or assault
- Individuals who live with mental health disorders
Unfortunately, veterans of all branches of the armed forces can be exposed to each of these challenges. From the trauma endured from being in an active warzone to the prevalence of survivor’s guilt and military sexual trauma experienced on base, veterans have a unique set of needs and experiences that inform their mental health long after they have been discharged from service.
Veterans of the armed forces suffer from an adjusted rate of suicide that is over 50% greater than the non-veteran population. However, the rate of suicide among veterans is still increasing, with an estimated 17 veterans dying by suicide each day in 2019. Sadly, these disparities continue to increase. Suicide among veterans is absolutely devastating to families, communities, and more. Finding professional, dedicated treatment is necessary to help prevent suicidal ideation from manifesting into tragic action.
The Role of Veteran Treatment
Transitioning out of military culture and into civilian communities is often wrought with stress. For many, it can be difficult to find a place of belonging and understanding among civilian communities, especially if a veteran’s experiences in the military have left them with a different mentality and perspective. Despite the physical and emotional traumas and the devastating prevalence of suicide among veterans, it is still common for many to feel they cannot reach out for help in processing these difficult emotions if not surrounded by truly understanding peers.
Dedicated veteran programs are designed to provide specific care for the unique challenges veterans face. They help to deconstruct barriers that may otherwise prevent veterans from receiving the necessary treatment to address addiction and trauma and, ultimately, work to prevent veteran suicide.
Connecting With Trauma-Informed Treatment
Personalizing each treatment program to fit the needs of individual veterans is essential. Dedicated veteran programs can accomplish this by utilizing effective trauma-informed therapy. Trauma is a profound and life-changing experience, and can often inform one’s use of drugs and alcohol. Additionally, trauma can fundamentally change an individual’s perspective regarding their self-worth or the world around them. However, if left unaddressed, feelings of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicidal thoughts can develop into action. An effective treatment program requires a safe space to begin healing and adopting a more positive, healthy mindset.
Creating a Community
Community is crucial for anyone looking to overcome the effects of addiction, mental health disorders, and suicidal ideation. However, for veterans, it can be difficult to find others who truly understand and sympathize with their unique challenges and needs. Pervasive images painting veterans as stolid, unwavering heroes can inform how one acts around civilians, making it difficult to express emotions or vulnerability. Denying these emotions can cause them to continue festering in one’s mind, worsening their destructive effects.
Suicidal thoughts can often stem from an individual feeling alone or abandoned in their trials. Veterans of the armed forces are just as susceptible to these feelings of isolation, loneliness, and more when transitioning from active duty. Finding a community of peers is necessary to challenge these feelings of isolation, and thus address suicidal thoughts alongside peers and professionals alike.
Overcoming Suicidal Ideation
Suicidal ideation is an incredibly intense feeling, and feelings of anxiety, depression, and more can cause an individual to act on these self-destructive notions. Professional treatment can help veterans suffering from invasive or suicidal thoughts to adopt effective strategies to process these feelings without acting on them. From providing mindfulness and grounding strategies while feelings pass to creating a safer home environment to prevent suicide, such as locking away any firearms behind keys and padlocks, there are always strategies available to ensure that veterans have time to process and acknowledge these emotions without immediately taking drastic action.
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Finding Spiritual Healing
Spirituality plays a major part in effective healing, and dedicated veteran programs are designed to address each veteran’s physical and emotional needs along with any spiritual needs that may have become compromised as a result of traumatic experiences. Spiritual healing is necessary to help an individual feel more connected to the world and its benefits while helping each veteran contextualize their experiences and provide meaning to one’s life, placating intense suicidal thoughts or ideas to promote a healthier civilian life.
Veteran suicide is tragic, but finding treatment is always possible to prevent veterans from acting on these intense thoughts and feelings. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we understand the needs of the veteran community. We have established a supportive atmosphere of trauma-informed professionals and veteran peers alike in our comprehensive veteran programming, dedicated to veterans’ needs and struggles in civilian life. From drug and alcohol treatment support to overcoming suicidal thoughts and ideation, we can help. For more information on our effective, veteran-focused treatment programs in Hawaii, or to talk with a trained staff member about how we can personalize your time with us to address your unique needs for recovery in civilian life, call us today at (866) 390-5070.