Depression, anxiety, and PTSD are common mental health challenges for Veterans and members of the military. Research suggests that 11–20% of veterans experience PTSD each year — significantly higher than past-year estimates for the general population at less than 4%*
News coverage of current events in the Middle East and Ukraine are disturbing to many people. But for Veterans, members of the miliary and their families, they can have a significant impact on their mental health.
“We are ramping up our troops as we speak in anticipation of being involved in either Ukraine, Israel or Taiwan wars.” said Felice Krycia, director, Erie County Veterans Service Agency. “For many combat veterans, seeing the conflicts on television will trigger anxiety/stress etc. Some are reaching out for assistance, but many are self-medicating (alcohol or drugs).”
Sara Andrew, Community Engagement and Partnership Coordinator for suicide prevention at the VA said Veterans may be experiencing a wide range of emotions or increases in symptoms of mental health conditions. Some common reactions include anger, sadness, helplessness, and grief. She also mentions that in response, Veterans may cope through avoidant strategies such as alcohol/substance use or isolation.
“Veterans might have unanswered questions or feel vigilant or guarded,” she said. “These are normal reactions to negative events, however, if these reactions become overwhelming, continue for an extended period of time or negatively affect an individual’s functioning, they may need help through this challenging time.”
The Anti-Stigma Coalition presented its monthly Facebook Live on November 9 discussing how current world events are impacting Veterans and their families.
Panelists included Daniel Arnold, director of Veteran engagement, Veterans One-stop Center of WNY, Inc., Felice Krycia, director, Erie County Veterans Service Agency, and Kathy Snyder, director, Beaver Hollow Therapeutic Recreation for Military and First Responders.
It is funny how the mind works like that. It can be like they are right back to those dark days they experienced when they were in.
Director of Veteran Engagement, Veterans One-stop Center of WNY, Inc.
U.S. Air Force Veteran
According to Dan Arnold, a Veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force, current world events can trigger emotions in some veterans who experienced stressful situations in their past deployments while in the military. Seeing these events unfold on the news can bring back the stress some Veterans went through in their past, just thinking about what current military. members are thinking about with the military buildup happening.
“It is funny how the mind works like that,” he said. “It can be like they are right back to those dark days they experienced when they were in.”
Arnold shared how can family and friends can support Veterans in their mental health journey.
“I want to say by understanding. But can they really understand? Probably not. But they need to be aware of what they might be going through,” he said “If they notice changes in the way they normally act, not get on them, don’t make them feel worse for feeling the way they do.”
He suggests contacting a fellow Veteran that they keep in touch with, to talk to them, someone who can understand what they are going through.
The Erie County Veterans Services office (716) 858-6363
Veterans Crisis Line
Confidential crisis support for Veterans and their loved ones 24/7- dial 988 then Press 1, text 838255 or chat VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
VA Medical Center on Bailey Ave
VA Vet Center on Sweet Home Road
Call (716) 862-7350. Offering counseling and assistance to veterans in need. The Vet Center is dedicated to assisting combat veterans and military sexual trauma veterans.