If you or a loved one are in crisis or need someone to talk to, call the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255, press 1) or the Vet Center Call Center (1-877-WAR VETS / 1-877-927-8387).
DENVER (KDVR) — The chaos and government collapse in Afghanistan is bringing a flood of emotions for U.S. veterans who served in the country.
“I think we’re just torn. We’re mixed with anger, disappointment, betrayal and we’re questioning if it was even worth it — our time and service in Afghanistan — was it worth it,” said Ryan Hemhauser, U.S. Army veteran and founder of the organization “Disgruntled Vets.”
Hemhauser deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014. He started the group Disgruntled Vets to help advocate for veterans and has heard from many amid the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
“From a mental health perspective, we are getting bombarded with a lot of people either spiraling into a depression or just the question of: was it worth it? Was it worth losing my friends and my youth?” Hemhauser said.
Strategies for veterans to manage stress
According to mental health experts, those questions and doubts are common.
“They may be feeling frustrated, sad, helpless, distress and grief. They might feel angry or betrayed or experience an increase in mental health symptoms like (post-traumatic stress disorder) or depression,” said Andrea Rehmert, psychologist and deputy associate chief of staff for mental health in the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System.
Rehmert said there are strategies for veterans to manage stress.
“We ask that they consider the ways that their service did make a difference — the impact it had on others’ lives or their own life. Remember that now is just one moment in time and that things will continue to change,” Rehmert said.
She also encourages veterans to stay connected with family, friends or other veterans.
“Just making sure you’re doing the things in life that lead to that meaningful, purposeful feeling,” Rehmert said.
Mental health resources for veterans
For those who need help outside of their family or friend circle, there are plenty of free options.
The two documents below list apps and websites with veteran resources. The list below includes call centers, websites and places that veterans can visit.
- ECHCS Mental Health Website: Mental Health – VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System
- Vet Center Call Center: 1-877-WAR VETS (1-877-927-8387): This is an around the clock confidential call center where combat veterans and their families can call to talk about their military experience or any other issue they are facing in their readjustment to civilian life. The staff is comprised of combat veterans from several eras as well as family members of combat veterans. The service is free for combat veterans and their families so they may find resources they need at their nearest Vet Center.
- PTSD: National Center for PTSD – patient videos: Videos – PTSD: National Center for PTSD (va.gov)
- PTSD: National Center for PTSD – Information on Coping with Traumatic Stress Reactions: Coping with Traumatic Stress Reactions – PTSD: National Center for PTSD (va.gov)
- National Center for PTSD (VA): About Face: AboutFace – PTSD: National Center for PTSD (va.gov) – On AboutFace, veterans, family members and clinicians share their experiences with PTSD and PTSD treatment in moving film clips. Learn what you can do to help yourself or a loved one, from the stories of people who have been there.
- Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1
- Give an Hour: Home – Landing Page – Give an Hour
- Cohen Clinic: Cohen Veterans Network Clinics
- Mount Carmel (Colorado Springs): Home – Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center (veteranscenter.org)
- Make the Connection: MakeTheConnection.net is a one-stop resource where veterans and their families and friends can privately explore information about physical and mental health symptoms, challenging life events and mental health conditions. On this site, veterans and their families and friends can learn about available resources and support. Visit MakeTheConnection.net to learn more.
- Warrior Now: Warriornow.org
- Objective Zero Foundation: The Objective Zero Foundation enhances social connectedness and access to wellness and mental health resources to combat suicide within the military and veteran community. They use an upstream approach to suicide prevention, connecting our users to volunteer peer and civilian support ambassadors connections to resources from yoga and meditation to free or low cost mental health care.
- HeadStrong MH Treatment post 9/11 CV: http://getheadstrong.org/get-help/
- Vets4Warriors: 1-855-838-8255
- Denver University’s Sturm Center: www.du.edu/gspp/services/sturm.html
- Phoenix Multisport: http://www.phoenixmultisport.org/
- The Carson J Spencer Foundation: http://www.carsonjspencer.org/