Veterans support important

Published 9:58 pm Tuesday, February 26, 2019

It’s a statistic just as sad as it is unsurprising to anybody who pays attention to the problem of mental health among veterans.

Suicide among veterans is a crisis in our country. The problem is even worse among veterans in their first year of separation from the service, when they have a suicide rate approximately two times higher than the overall veteran suicide rate.

Service members transitioning out of the service into more rural, underserved areas are more at risk. That’s why a new program that will serve veterans in Suffolk is so important.

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According to Executive Order 13822, signed by President Donald Trump a little more than a year ago, veterans will be able to get access to high-quality mental health care and suicide prevention resources as they transition, with an emphasis on the first year.

The executive order allowed funding for the Hampton VA Medical Center to establish a contract with the Western Tidewater Community Services Board to expand its peer-led support services to transitioning service members living in the more rural areas covered by the Hampton VA.

The program, poignantly called “Orders Home,” will allow veterans to work with peer support specialists to navigate Veterans Affairs and get help finding resources for employment, debt, counseling, physical health and other areas of concern.

A voluntary, peer-led focus group designed for transitioning service members and their families meets from 1 to 3 p.m. on Mondays at the Suffolk Workforce Redevelopment Center, 157 N. Main St., and also on Wednesday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Western Tidewater Community Services Board, 1000 Commercial Lane.

We hope to see great success with this pilot program so that the service members who have faithfully served our country will be able to survive their transition and find purpose in the civilian world. Their story isn’t over just because they’ve left the military, and we hope Orders Home can help write it.