Veterans may be experiencing a range of challenging emotions related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Veterans who served in U.S. military conflicts may be feeling emotional distress, reminded of their own deployment experiences. The following is a quote from VA Secretary Denis McDonough, and a list of available VA and partner resources.
“I know that many of you, like me, have been deeply affected by the war in Ukraine,” McDonough said. “My heart goes out to the Ukrainian people as they defend themselves from this unprovoked attack, and to everyone impacted by this terrible war. Please know that we at VA are here for you during this difficult time. Whether you want to speak to another Veteran, talk to a therapist, call our crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1) or text 838255, visit one of our Vet centers, or access any of VA’s mental health services online at www.MentalHealth.va.gov, we are standing by and ready to help – today and every day.”
- If your distress is prolonged or you are unable to function well, consider seeking help. There are competent and caring professionals available who can help you with the most common responses, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, moral injury and complicated grief.
- Every VA facility has mental health specialists. Visit: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/get-help/local-care.asp to find a provider near you.
- Talk about your reactions in community based VA Vet Centers, where over 70% of staff are Veterans themselves. Call 1-800-WAR-VETS or find one near you.
- Go to MakeTheConnection.net, an online resource designed to connect Veterans, their family members and friends, and other supporters with information, resources and solutions to issues affecting their lives – from challenging life events or experiences to mental health issues or challenges.
- If you feel like you might hurt yourself or someone else, reach out now. The Veterans Crisis Line, online chat and text-messaging service are free to all Veterans, even if you are not enrolled in VA health care. Confidential support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year through the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1).
Feeling distress is a normal reaction to negative events, especially ones that feel personal. It can be helpful to let yourself experience those feelings rather than try to avoid them. Often these feelings will naturally run their course. If they continue without easing up or if you feel overwhelmed by them, the suggestions below can be helpful.
- Engage in positive, healthy activities that are rewarding, meaningful or enjoyable, even if you don’t feel like it, as they can make you feel better.
- Stay connected by spending time with people who give you a sense of security, calm or happiness, or those who best understand what you are going through.
- Practice good self care by engaging in activities such as listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling or reading inspirational text.
- Stick to your routines and follow a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work and do other day-to-day activities.
- Limit media exposure especially if it’s increasing your distress.
- Use a VA mobile app by visiting: https://mobile.va.gov/appstore/mental-health.
- Try PTSD Coach Online, which is a series of online videos that will guide you through 17 tools to help you manage stress.
Solace in service
Consider engaging with your community to give back as Veterans. You are our country’s greatest civic assets. Many of our Veterans and Veteran serving organizations are already giving back as a means to support their communities, reduce feelings of helplessness, and improve their mental health by serving as a bridge to the community with volunteer service. Get involved!
Veteran Service Organizations:
If you or your organization is supporting any of these efforts or wish to be shared as a resource, please email VAVEOCommunications@va.gov.