Texas Health and Human Services Commission is encouraging Texas veterans to access free suicide prevention and PTSD treatment resources the organization is offering this month.
June is Texas Veterans Suicide Prevention and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month.
Texas Health and Human Services Commission administers the Mental Health Program for Veterans in partnership with the Texas Veterans Commission. The program funds peer-to-peer counseling for veterans and their families through local mental health authorities and local behavioral health authorities.
“When a veteran is battling PTSD, not only does it have an impact on them, it affects their families, friends, and communities," Sonja Gaines said. She is the deputy executive commissioner for Intellectual and Developmental Disability and Behavioral Health Services.
"Reaching out for help is the first step toward getting support for them and preventing suicide. We connect veterans to mental health care and other invaluable services that can support them.”
HHSC also funds and administers the TexVet initiative which includes a website hosted by the Texas A&M Health Science Center. The website helps veterans navigate through resources available in their communities including mental health care providers, social groups, job placement programs and legal assistance. Veterans can also find additional resources by visiting MentalHealthtx.org/veterans.
“It’s important that we know the signs of mental health issues in our friends, family members and others," Dr. Blake Harris said. He is the director of the Veterans Mental Health Department in the Texas Veterans Commission.
"With education and awareness, we can assist those suffering from mental health issues, help prevent self-destructive behaviors and increase well-being for them and those around them."
At least 511 veterans in Texas died by suicide in 2018, according to the most recent data by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
That suicide rate is almost double the suicide rate of non-veterans in the state, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs attributes some of those deaths to the military-related trauma that affects 11 to 30% of veterans.
Texas veterans in crisis can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.