Help available for returning vets, families
By Mike Nolan email@example.com August 9, 2012 10:48PM
The U.S. Army last month reported that, through June, there had been 89 potential suicides among active-duty personnel. The Army said 48 were confirmed as suicides and 41 remain under investigation. For all of 2011, there were 165 suicides among active-duty personnel.
Through June, the Army said, there had been 58 potential suicides among non active-duty personnel. The Army said 34 had been confirmed as suicides and 24 are under investigation. For all of last year there were 118 suicides among non active-duty personnel.
Updated: September 11, 2012 6:19AM
For military personnel and their families suffering the aftereffects of deployment, help might be as close as village hall or the local Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion hall.
Community-based veterans commissions and veterans service officers connected with organizations such as VFW, American Legion and Amvets can help steer military personnel to counseling agencies and medical facilities.
“Some people may feel there is not a lot of help out there,” Army Lt. Col. Nick Johnson, of Country Club Hills, said. “They may feel they have unique problems.”
A Department of Veterans Affairs clinical psychologist who works with recruits based at Naval Station Great Lakes, Johnson also helps veterans readjusting to civilian life. He’s a member of the executive board of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 311 in Richton Park.
Johnson said “there is care through the VA for whatever the ailment,” but that help means nothing if a returning soldier doesn’t seek it out. Family members who believe a loved one is in need of help can contact the VA or even the American Legion or VFW in their community, he said.
Some townships also offer assistance for vets, and both the state and Cook County have veterans affairs departments. Former Hazel Crest Mayor Bill Browne, who is a member of VFW Post 311, heads up the county’s veteran assistance commission.
Johnson said that mental health organizations in the Southland have had employees undergo specialized training to meet the needs of returning military personnel.
One such organization, he said, is Grand Prairie Services, which is located in Hazel Crest and has offices in Chicago Heights, South Holland and Tinley Park.