FILE - In this July 3, 2018, file photo, a Pakistani recruit, 22, who was recently discharged from the U.S. Army, holds an American flag as he poses for a picture. The U.S. Army has stopped discharging immigrant recruits who enlisted seeking a path to citizenship - at least temporarily. A memo shared with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Aug. 8 and dated July 20 spells out orders to high-ranking Army officials to stop processing discharges of men and women who enlisted in the special immigrant program, effective immediately. (AP Photo/Mike Knaak, File)

Initiative urges communities to support at-risk Veterans through simple actions

To mark Suicide Prevention Month this September, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is shining a light on effective ways to prevent Veteran suicide with its Be There campaign.

The campaign highlights the risk factors and warning signs for suicide, provides information about VA mental health and suicide prevention resources, and helps individuals and organizations start the conversation around Veteran mental health in their communities.

“In our various communities, everyone is in a position to make a difference for a Veteran who may be at risk for suicide,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, who recorded a video about VA’s strategies to prevent Veteran suicide. “A common misconception is that you need special training to talk safely about suicide risk or show concern for someone who is in distress. One simple act of kindness could help save a life. I encourage everyone this September, and beyond, to take the first step in acting as that support system.”

Talking with a Veteran about mental health or suicide risk may be challenging, but VA encourages community leaders, colleagues, family and friends to simply “Be There” by sharing messages of support that can help show a Veteran you care. VA has also collaborated with community partners and is asking individuals across the country this month to share resources with Veterans in their lives via the BeThereForVeterans.com webpage.

Veterans in crisis or having thoughts of suicide — and those who know a Veteran in crisis — can call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or text to 838255.

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