Veterans Learn More About Mental Health

Veterans learn more about mental health

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - About 20 military veterans commit suicide every day according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In an attempt to bring that number down the Columbia Veteran Affairs Medical Center met with veterans and different organizations for the fifth annual VA Community Mental Health Summit.

"Suicide among veterans is astronomically high," Steven Diaz said.

Diaz is a marine veteran and he says he's dealt with mental health issues in the past.

"But I choose to do something about it. And recognize the symptoms of post traumatic stress and then find out what are the best treatments," he said.

Diaz works with Hidden Wounds a non profit organization that helps veterans deal with those issues.

On Friday he was one of the many men and women who took part in the VA's Community Mental Health Summit.

"It's good for people to come in and learn and those who might be suffering with issues themselves to come in and learn what's out there for them," he said.

The organizations learned more about how to treat veterans struggling with PTSD, anxiety and depression while veterans and active military came to learn how to get the help they may need.

"Everything that you do, you have a say so in," Eric Hipple said.

Hipple retired from playing football in the NFL after ten years as quarterback for the Detroit Lions.

He said he dealt with depression, attempted suicide and faced the suicide of his own son before getting the help he needed.

"I'll never forget after my son's death, somebody walked up to me and whispered in my ear, 'This happened in our family too.' And I said, 'Why are we whispering? There's nobody around,' but that's how strong the stigma is and if we're not able to connect and talk about some of this stuff then that means we're just going to suffer," said Hipple.

Now he travels around the country to spread awareness on the issue.

"There's something we can actually do about it. Part of it is owning it. Part of it is moving forward, not getting trapped. And part of that is connection," Hipple said.

If you are a veteran and need assistance or are worried about a veteran you can call the Veterans' Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

(© 2016 WLTX)


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