“Life has its challenges. As a Veteran, you don’t have to solve them alone.” —VA.

The Department of Veteran Affairs collaborated with the Ad Council to launch a “Don’t Wait. Reach Out” National Campaign last year that encourages struggling Veterans to proactively seek help for their life challenges before they reach a crisis point.

This year, as the world observes Suicide Prevention Month, the VA has once again highlighted its ongoing campaign of spreading hope among Veterans “across a wide range of life challenges before these problems become overwhelming.”

“We are grateful to the many organizations across the country that are doing the important on-the-ground work to reach and support Veterans in their local communities,” said Dr. Matt Miller, Executive Director, VA Suicide Prevention. “Our message to Veterans, and those who support them, is Don’t Wait, Reach Out. Asking for help isn’t always easy, but Veterans are trained to do hard things.”

Suicide is complex, yet it is preventable. But as Veterans are trained to endure challenging situations, some might struggle to reach out and ask for help because of the stigma surrounding it. Because of this, they are among the most vulnerable compared to the general population. According to the 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, although the Veteran suicide rate significantly and meaningfully decreased in 2019, the rate remained 52 percent higher than non-Veteran adults in the US.

Moreover, the largest Veteran cohort (ages 55 and above) has the highest number of deaths by suicide. In contrast, rates of death by suicide relative to the size of their population are highest among ages 18-34. The report also noted that in the US, 90 percent of Veterans are men, and 10 percent are women.

Nonetheless, it remains a national public health concern caused by stressful life events such as divorce, job loss, substance use, or housing troubles. These and other crises can be risk factors for suicide. Another risk factor to carefully consider is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which some Veterans experience after coming back from a deployment in a harsh environment. However, it is important to note that PTSD is a treatable condition and doesn’t always cause suicide or suicidal ideation nor only exists among Veterans. It can affect anyone, at any age.

The “Don’t Wait. Reach Out.” campaign is part of the VA’s ten-year strategy to end Veteran suicide through a comprehensive, public health approach where everyone can be part of the solution. Even as little as checking in with the Veterans in your life who may be having a rough time.