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).

Veterans Crisis Line

Coping strategies

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!

Community Resources:

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.

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12 Comments

  1. Eric March 27, 2022 at 10:11 am

    What is the VA’s stance on disabled vets helping in Ukraine? I want to go and help, but see where I could/would lose VA benefits if I did. I see many on social media, news, etc. helping and I’m sure some of them have a rating of some kind, but are over filling combat roles etc.

    I look forward to your response.

  2. jess March 21, 2022 at 11:16 am

    ty

  3. BK March 10, 2022 at 5:45 pm

    The number shown for the VA Vet Center Call Center is incorrect. The correct number is 1-877-WAR-VETS (not 800), or 1-877-927- 8387. Should read: Talk about your reactions in community based VA Vet Centers, where over 70% of staff are Veterans themselves. Call 1-877-WAR-VETS (927-8387) or find one near you.

  4. Wayne A Carlson March 4, 2022 at 12:23 pm

    Well I have to apologize …the post showed up. Thanks. Duty, Honor, Country.

  5. Wayne A Carlson March 4, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    I posted a comment that was not obscene or disrespectful or whatever. But it did not get posted for whatever reason commenting on the Ukraine effect.
    Thanks.

    [Editor: Comments do not automatically publish. They are human moderated. Your other comment was in the queue and it has published.]

  6. Wayne A Carlson March 4, 2022 at 11:27 am

    Distressed? Well maybe you could call it that. Distressed seeing women and children have to flee their homes from a homeland that did nothing to provoke this (from what I have observed or heard from a distance). Distressed seeing people willing to fight oppression and even stand in front of heavily armed forces without any arms themselves. Now if it was designed just to show how “restrained” the Russian forces are that would be one thing (i.e. propaganda). However, if it is Ukrainian patriots that are in the mold of our Patrick Henry that is quite another. As a Vietnam Vet that had mixed emotions about the ARVN commitment to abstract principles (leadership on down) as reported by documented reports or fellow troops the reported fighting commitment of the Ukrainians is very inspiring. As a person that took karate (somewhat) you learn that you back up only to either sidestep or just to maneuver to go on the offensive from a more advantageous position. I applaud the Ukrainian people and have sat there watching the TV with chills going up and down my spine. That is the distress.

  7. Ret. SSG Danny Patterson, USA March 4, 2022 at 12:53 am

    I thought I needed to just shut the television off after all this Russian invasion on Ukraine but then I feel like I’m being so insensitive to the Ukrainian citizens.
    This whole situation has me so angry and frustrated bringing thoughts back in my head from my time in Afghanistan in 2010. Even the Biden Administration had me so upset about the way they handled the pullout of Americans out of Afghanistan. Everything that I fought for and the lives or everyone who served in that war was just for what??? That was so wrong! Now Putin is such an idiot for doing this to a peaceful country that used to be a part of his own motherland. Yeah, I’m upset. I get up, go outside take deep breaths and am back watching more. These people feel helpless and I have such empathy for all of them. I thank you for letting me vent. Thanks for all you do. God Bless America. God Bless the VA and God Bless Ukraine. May the Kremlin fall.

  8. Jimmy March 3, 2022 at 6:48 pm

    Who does one talk to , to see if there are organizations
    That would pay for vets to go over to Ukraine to fight . I would go .
    Can’t anyone wrap their mind around the fact that once Putin conquers Ukraine , what’s to stop him from going even further ? He don’t give a crap about NATO .

  9. Chance Birdsall March 2, 2022 at 9:26 pm

    #ThankYou

  10. Antonio Esquivel March 2, 2022 at 7:50 pm

    Thank You ….VA Again.

  11. Daniel Gutierrez March 2, 2022 at 11:26 am

    Thanks

  12. Dr. Bridgette Lynn Davidson March 1, 2022 at 11:35 am

    Remembering our Veteran’s, as the years pass our veteran’s mature in their age. With the maturity, there are many losses, such as the last child leaving home (empty nest syndrome), in which takes away much of our focus. Leaving the disabled veteran to pay more attention to their disabilities. Importantly, when this happens it can result in various forms of depression and anxieties. Therefore, it is optimal for our veterans to participate in activities that incorporate coping strategies as well as interventions that will increase mental awareness; promoting a stronger self, mentally and physically. Additionally, due to COVID-19, there are not many office visit’s documented or confirmed. Therefore, I believe, information science and medicine through veteran’s outreach, may be the dose of medication needed, to bring clarity to our digital citizens and veterans, as we move forward in this New World of Technology, manifested with COVID-19.

Comments are closed.