Groups notice more veterans reaching out in mental health crisis this holiday season

Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 3:27 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Area veterans organizations are noticing an increase in calls from men and women who served, in crisis. Groups noticed the uptick in mental health issues in the weeks leading up to the holidays.

Freedom Foundation Executive Director Lexi Coberly says volunteers have been taking the time to talk with veterans in distress when they call. Many of those answering the phones served in the military themselves and can relate to the people they’re talking with. But the phone has been ringing more than usual.

”The veterans calling us depressed, suicidal, PTSD flares where they can’t go into you know shopping places,” Coberly explained.

And it’s not just the Freedom Foundation noticing the increase.

”The Marion American Legion reached out and said hey we’re getting a lot of calls of veterans in distress,” Coberly said.

The groups can’t pinpoint why this year seems worse than others, but they suspect added stress from the economy is playing a role.

”I think it’s just the holiday time, stress, the economy I think it’s just everything is just boiling, come to a boiling point,” said Coberly.

The Freedom Foundation has a food pantry for veterans and can also help veterans with bills, easing some of the stressors. But veterans in mental health crisis are being referred to the V.A. or the mental health access center. Others just need a listening ear.

”We’ve had vets call us and they will say on the phone, I just need a voice, I just want to talk. So we have people here and that’s all we do is sit there and listen to them,” said Coberly.

They’re offering companionship during the holidays, a time when some feel more isolated than ever.

Another option for veterans, or anyone in mental health crisis is to dial 988. That’s the phone number for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.