Thinking About Afghanistan? Your are Not Alone
Help and Resources

For the past 20 years, more than 775,000 US troops deployed to the war zone-many with multiple deployments. The Images and news of the U.S withdrawal and the takeover by the Taliban is gut wrenching. We understand the developments in Afghanistan may bring back difficult memories, raise questions and cause frustration for veterans and their families. How to process and get help? The Tug McGraw Foundation is here to support veterans and their families by connecting them to resources and sharing information.

 

Veterans Affairs says you are not alone.

"Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service. It’s normal to feel this way. Talk with your friends and families, reach out to battle buddies, connect with a peer-to-peer network, or sign up for mental health services"

The following resources are available from Veterans Affairs:

 

Veterans Crisis Line - If you are having thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-8255, then PRESS 1 or visit http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

 

For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local VA medical center 24/7 regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care.

 

Vet Centers - Discuss how you feel with other Veterans in these community-based counseling centers. 70% of Vet Center staff are Veterans. Call 1-877-927-8387 or find one near you.

 

VA Mental Health Services Guide - This guide will help you sign up and access mental health services.

 

MakeTheConnection.net - information, resources, and Veteran to Veteran videos for challenging life events and experiences with mental health issues.

RallyPoint - Talk to other Veterans online. Discuss: What are your feelings as the Taliban reclaim Afghanistan after 20 years of US involvement?

 

Download VA’s self-help apps - Tools to help deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.

 

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) - Request a Peer Mentor

 

VA Women Veterans Call Center - Call or text 1-855-829-6636 (M-F 8AM - 10PM & SAT 8AM - 6:30PM ET)

 

VA Caregiver Support Line - Call 1-855-260-3274 (M-F 8AM - 10PM & SAT 8AM - 5PM ET)

 

Together We Served - Find your battle buddies through unit pages

George W. Bush Institute - Need help or want to talk? Check In or call:1-630-522-4904 or email: checkin@veteranwellnessalliance.org

 

Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes - Join the community.

American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network - Peer Support and Mentoring

Team Red, White & Blue - Hundreds of events weekly. Find a chapter in your area.

 

Student Veterans of America - Find a campus chapter to connect with.

 

Team Rubicon - Find a local support squad.

 

Source: Department of Veterans Affairs

Website: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/index.asp

Updated: 18 Aug 2021

 

Additional Resources:

 

USSOCOM Care Coalition- US Special Operations Warrior Care-1-877-672-3039 or 813-826-8888 or email: ussocomcarecoalition@socom.mil

 

Navy SEAL Foundation-Here to support members of the NSW active duty and veteran community. Call 1-757-744-5326

 

Safe Project | Safe Veterans: Dedicated to connecting veterans, active duty service members, their families and caregivers to the resources they need to combat substance use disorder.

 

Wounded Warrior Project: Visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org or Call Resource Center at 1-888-997-2586

Coping with Current Events in Afghanistan

Veterans who served in Afghanistan may be experiencing a range of challenging emotions related to the U.S withdrawal from the country. Veterans who served during other conflicts may also be feeling strong emotions as they may be reminded of their own deployment experiences.Common Reactions to Current Events.

Veterans may experience the following reactions related to the current events in Afghanistan:

  • Feeling frustrated, sad, helpless, distressed (including moral distress), angry or betrayed

  • Worrying about Afghans who worked with the U.S. military, like interpreters

  • Experiencing an increase in mental health symptoms like symptoms of PTSD or depression

  • Sleeping poorly, drinking more or using more drugs

  • Trying to avoid all reminders or media or shy away from social situations

  • Having more military and homecoming memories

  • Questioning the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made

Veterans also may feel like they need to expect and/or prepare for the worst and may:

  • Become overly protective, vigilant and guarded

  • Become preoccupied by danger

  • Feel a need to avoid being shocked by, or unprepared for, what may happen in the future

  • 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.

Strategies for Managing Ongoing Distress

  • At this moment, it may seem like all is lost, or like your service or your sacrifices were for nothing. Consider the ways that your service made a difference, the impact it had on others' lives or on your own life. Remember that now is just one moment in time and that things will continue to change.

  • It can be helpful to focus on the present and to engage in the activities that are most meaningful and valuable to you. Is there something you can do today that is important to you? This can be as an individual, a family member, a parent or a community member. Is there something meaningful regarding your work or your spirituality where you can focus additional energy? These activities will not change the past or the things you can't control, but they can help life feel meaningful and reduce distress, despite the things you cannot change.

  • It can also help to consider your thinking. Ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful to you right now. Are there ways you can change your thinking to be more accurate and less distressing? For example, are you using extreme thinking where you see the situation as all bad or all good? If so, try and think in less extreme terms. Rather than thinking "my service in Afghanistan was useless" consider instead "I helped keep Afghanistan safe."

Finally, consider more general coping strategies:

  • 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 feeling.

  • 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 to help manage reactions and practice self-care.

  • Try PTSD Coach Online, with 17 tools explained by video coaches to help you manage stress.

When to Consider Professional Help

  • If your distress continues or you are unable to function well, consider seeking help. There are experienced and caring professionals available who can help you with common responses to current events, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, moral injury and complicated grief.

  • Every VA facility has mental health specialists. Visit VA's Get Help page to find a provider near you.

  • Or go to Make the Connection, 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.

  • If you feel like you might hurt yourself or someone else, reach out now. The Veterans Crisis Line, includes phone, online chat and text-messaging services 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. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

Source: Department of Veterans Affairs

Website: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/index.asp

Updated: 18 Aug 2021