Area veteran hits roadblock as he seeks mental health help from VA

Area veteran hits roadblock as he seeks mental health help from VA
Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 12:50 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - It’s supposed to be the call to save a life.

We hear so much about suicide support lines that are active each day, especially the ones for veterans who might be struggling with something so few of us can even imagine. What happens when there’s no follow up for that veteran having dark thoughts? It’s happened to one man who says it should never happen to another.

There are so many monitored lines that you can call if you are having suicidal thoughts but it’s more than just the call. More mental health support is usually available. As long as someone calls you back to make the appointment.

There are so many difficult memories for the veteran you’re about the meet when he thinks back on his time in Afghanistan. A friendly solider once put a gun to his head plus the nearly weekly mortar attacks.

“I had one almost hit me. Pretty close to where I was sleeping one time. If it would have been a few feet farther it would have hit a fuel center our campground was next to and it would have taken all of us out,” this veteran told 13abc.

This veteran has asked for anonymity as he shares his mental health struggles. First, he reached out the VA for support but that didn’t get him far.

“I called three different numbers and I left a message. They didn’t answer. It all went to voicemail. And they never returned my call,” the veteran said.

Two weeks later as things got worse he texted the suicide hotline. He says the hour long session was good and a social worker called the next day.

“Then she said she was putting me in for an immediate consult. To me immediate would mean 24 hours, maybe 48 hours at max. And that was the last thing I heard,” the veteran added.

But then nothing. Two weeks later he finally got a call for a mental health appointment but was told that appointment would happen two weeks later.

“Whether it’s their intention or not, if somebody gets stuck in the system like this, there’s been past reports of people who have completed suicide in their parking lot there. It almost makes you understand why and the frustration they would have because you feel like they’ve completely turned their back on you and just don’t care,” this veteran added.

Speaking of waiting, the I-Team has waited nearly a week for a comment from the Ann Arbor VA about their policies, procedures and timelines are for getting veterans into mental health care. We still haven’t received those answers.

Their website does list several services offered which include that immediate crisis line but the issue here is the follow through.

Luckily this veteran is working through his struggles thanks in large part to great family support but not everyone may have that. Crisis lines and VA might be their support.

“A lot of the times it’ll get to a point where you almost just feel like there’s nothing left for you to do. It inches you closer at times to make bad decisions,” this veteran added.

Anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide, mental health or addiction can contact the nationwide 9-8-8 suicide and crisis lifeline. It offers free, 24-7 confidential support.

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