HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — Some of the over 400,000 veterans who live in Alabama struggle with mental health issues, which too often can lead to suicide to help those in the Wiregrass who have served our country.
The city of Dothan, along with the Department of Veterans Affairs, hosted a town hall on Wednesday, the first meeting of its kind in the state to share insight about warning signs among veterans.
In 2020, veteran suicides made up 25% of all suicides in the Wiregrass. This is why these groups are working hard to end the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide.
Joseph Lee Robin is a veteran that was in the Army for ten years, served our county in Iraq, and now wants the community to know how much veterans need their help.
“Veterans are the best people you will ever meet,” Robin said. “They have high integrity, they have high morale, they will still die for you.”
Experts at the town hall said the first step in preventing a veteran suicide is knowing the signs: anger, anxiety, increase alcohol or substance use, and feelings of having no reason to live are all things to look out for.
The goal behind ‘Alabama’s Challenge Town Hall’ is to bring awareness about veterans’ well-being across the state, and tackle tough issues such as veteran suicide. However, they say they can’t take on these issues alone. They need the whole community to step up, be available, and listen to those in need.
“Love my country, and I do the same thing and I know these veterans here will do the same thing if they had another opportunity to do it,” Robin said. “They are just a little banged up right now.”
As for resources in the Circle City, veterans have a variety to choose from.
The Disabled Veterans Chapter 87, SpectraCare Health Services, Wiregrass 211, and the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs all have people and resources available to assist veterans and help lift them from tough spots. This care can go a long way for those who continue to battle the stigma around mental health.
“If we can ask the community just to pray for all of our veterans for the people going overseas to Ukraine,” Robin said. “Just for the families and the soldiers because it is tough on everybody.”
If you are a veteran or know someone who has served our county and is struggling with mental health, experts say the best thing you can do is simply ask, “are you okay,” then talk about the problems they are facing.
People are also encouraged to call the National Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.