May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and, according to governmental studies, an average of 20 veterans are lost to suicide daily (the civilian suicide rate is approximately 14/day).

Math: 20x7=140 veterans per week. 20x30=600 veterans per month. 20x365=7,300 veterans per year. Studies have concluded that higher suicide rates in veterans are often associated with some form of PTSD from which the veteran was suffering.

PTSD rates vary among the branches of service and locations served and seem to be higher for those who served in Iraq, but it is important to remember that ANYONE who has experienced trauma can develop and suffer from PTSD.

Nixon Library Hosts Reunion For Vietnam Prisoners Of War
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We shouldn't need a "month" to remind us to do this but: take a moment today (and every day) to reach out to a veteran in your life. Just be there for them. You don't have to ask  "how are you doing?" or try to get them to open up: just be there to let them know you care.

If you do find yourself or a veteran who needs help, do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. Getting help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength. It takes courage to face some things in life, and that courage should be applauded.

Also, it's a shame that we must have a "month" to remind us to stop reinforcing the stigma(s) surrounding mental health and suicide. Our brain is an organ, and sometimes it may experience difficulties and need attention just like a liver or a kidney or a heart.

No soldier ever started a war, they are (were) just ready to go when called.

Reach out to a veteran today, you could be the voice that helps them.

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