Community College Message To Struggling Veterans: ‘You’re Not Alone In This’

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Parkland College in Champaign is hosting an event Thursday to raise awareness about a troubling statistic: 20 veterans die from suicide everyday in the U.S.

Kristina Taylor is a financial aid advisor and coordinator of veterans and military personnel student services at Parkland College.

She said many veteran students deal with issues of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, which left untreated, can lead to mental health crises or suicide.

Many veterans struggle with asking for help “because they’ve been trained that it’s important for them to be leaders and do things on their own,” Taylor said. “So they need someone who notices them struggling [and is] willing to step up and help them ask for the help that they need.”

At Parkland’s “22 Challenge” event, anyone can come and do 22 pushups to promote awareness about the veteran suicide rate. Taylor said the idea comes from a viral awareness campaign that started several years ago.

Taylor said the event organizers hope people walk away with a greater understanding of the issue, “so that they’ll be more on the lookout to notice the signs and symptoms of people around them who might be struggling.”

Information about local mental health resources will be provided.

“I guess the message [to veterans] is that they’re not in this alone,” Taylor said. “Not only are other people dealing with the same issues, but there are people out there who… are there to support them.”

Additional suicide prevention events planned for this semester include a community walk this Saturday at Crystal Lake Park. All events are open to the community.

The national helpline for veterans is 1-800-273-8255. Veterans in crisis can also send a text to 838255.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman

Story source: WILL