My name is Cassie Coley. I am writing this letter to advocate for, and hopefully, to raise awareness about the mental health needs of U.S. Veterans. Although we do have legislation in place that aims to ensure that veteran mental health needs are met, there continues to be a high rate of suicide among war veterans as well as a gap in the delivery of services to address mental illness. It has been found that 1 in 4 veterans commit suicide in direct relation of a mental health illness. My goal is to raise awareness in the Coffee County community so that local agencies can provide services or refer to other services in an attempt to decrease the number of veteran suicide.
In 2013, The Veterans Integrated Mental Health Act was put into place to ensure that no veteran falls through the cracks of receiving services to address mental health needs. This would require collaboration from social workers, psychiatrists, and medical staff at establishments such as the VA and any other mental health clinic; the problem is: how can we know this is happening? If these professionals truly came together and delivered efficient and effective services, I believe we could see a dramatic change in the statistics regarding veteran suicide due to mental health issues.
In addition to efforts from mental health professionals, I believe it is part of our civil duty to be aware of the issue at hand and help by making others aware as well. Simply informing yourself or sharing a link on Facebook about the statistics and resources could help a veteran suffering with unmet mental health needs and contribute to lowering the rates of veteran suicide.