If you are a veteran or active-duty service member dealing with a mental health problem or crisis, you are not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), more than 1.7 million veterans sought and received mental health services through the organization in 2021. Whether you’re dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, controlling your anger, adjusting to civilian live, or even having trouble sleeping, there is treatment available that can help put you back in charge of your life.
VA Mental Health Resources
If you are a veteran in crisis, there are a variety of mental health resources available to you through the VA. Whether you are seeking information, treatment options or even assistance with housing, the VA has a wide support network designed to assist veterans in crisis.
VA Mental Health
Offering access to high-quality mental health care is part of the core mission for the Department of Veterans Affairs. For this reason, the VA Mental Health program includes outpatient, residential and inpatient mental health services in locations around the country. The program focuses on evidence-based treatments with an emphasis on recovery, with care that is convenient to those in need at any time of day.
Vet Centers offer confidential, no-cost support to veterans, service members and their families with a range of community-based counseling, including social and psychological services and professional counseling. Individual, group, marriage and family counseling are available, as well as referrals and connections to other VA programs and services. Counselors are prepared to discuss loss, grief, trauma, tragedies of war, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma and more. All services are strictly confidential.
National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Veterans contending with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can find help and counseling as well as treatment by connecting with the National Center for PTSD. The center offers information about symptoms, types of trauma, common reactions and related problems as well as treatment options, including talk therapies and medications. Veterans can find local care options as well as self-help resources for managing symptoms, and much more.
National Call Center for Homeless Veterans
Homeless veterans or those who are at risk of homelessness can contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans, where trained VA staff members are ready to provide information about VA homeless programs, health care and other local services. The service is free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Family members, friends and supporters can also call on behalf of veterans. Veterans without access to a phone or the internet should visit their closest VA medical center.
Make the Connection
The VA offers a public awareness and outreach campaign for treatment and support for veterans and families through its Make the Connection program. The program aims to offer information about signs and symptoms on conditions ranging from anxiety disorders and depression to the effects of traumatic brain injury and alcohol and substance use disorder. Users can also learn about treatment options, take self-assessments, learn about self-help options or find professional treatment options.
Resources for Substance Abuse by Branch
Millions of Americans, including active-duty service members and veterans, fall victim to alcohol and substance use disorders. No matter your branch of service or the stage of your career, there are a range of care, treatment and support options available to help you overcome addiction or abuse issues.
Army Substance Abuse Program
With a mission aimed at strengthening the overall fitness and effectiveness of the Army’s workforce, the Army Substance Abuse Program offers soldiers services that include alcohol and drug abuse deterrence, prevention, education and rehabilitation. The program offers prevention and education services at all levels of command, with strategies that respond to potential problems before they jeopardize readiness, productivity and careers. Treatment options are open to active-duty soldiers, Reservists, and members of the National Guard.
Marine Corps Substance Abuse Program
Prevention education, early intervention initiatives, counseling, and drug and alcohol deterrent activities are at the core of the Marine Corps Substance Abuse Program. Substance abuse counseling centers are located on all Marine Corps installations, with treatment led by licensed professionals who can screen assess, treat and manage cases related to alcohol and drug abuse. Following an assessment, a Marine can enter a care program that’s designed to respond to their changing clinical needs.
Air Force Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT)
The Air Force offers the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) program, aimed at promoting readiness, health and wellness through the prevention and treatment of substance abuse. ADAPT services are primarily for active-duty personnel and include outreach, counseling, outpatient and inpatient treatment. Non-active-duty Tricare beneficiaries may be eligible for assessment and treatment.
Navy Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Program (SARP)
The Navy’s Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Program promotes readiness, health and wellness through prevention programs and treatment of those suffering from substance abuse. Sailors with alcohol problems are encouraged to seek help without fear of negative consequences. A Sailor may be referred to SARP by a supervisor if there are signs of problem use, or through a command referral following a substance-related incident (underage drinking, driving while intoxicated, disorderly conduct, etc.), or a failed drug screening.
Veterans, active-duty personnel and
Reservists who are dealing with a mental health crisis can find help through a number of crisis hotlines, some of which are focused specifically to those with military experience.
- Veterans Crisis Line offers around-the-clock crisis support that’s fully confidential and available to veterans and their loved ones. You don’t have to be enrolled with the VA or receiving other benefits or health care to connect. By phone, dial 988 then press 1; or send a text to 838255.
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline offers a confidential chat option for veterans. Dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255), then press 1 when prompted to be connected to a VA call center.
- Domestic Violence National Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day by counselors who will provide assistance and other services. Call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224.
- Child Abuse Hotline is dedicated to preventing child abuse and is staffed 24 hours a day by trained counselors. Call 1-800-422-4453.
- National Veterans Foundation offers crisis management, information referrals and outreach for veterans in need. Call 1-888-777-4443.
- VA’s Homelessness Hotline is available to those who are currently experiencing homelessness or are on the verge of homelessness. Call 1-877-424-3838.
Free Clinics and Outreach Programs
In addition to veteran-centered programs available through the VA, there are other national programs that offer mental health counseling and outreach to military personnel and veterans.
- The Soldiers Project provides free, confidential psychological treatment to active-duty personnel and veterans with locations in Chicago, Houston, Long Island, New York City, Sacramento, southern California, Wyoming, Washington State and Pennsylvania. Find information about locations and services on the organization’s website.
- Given An Hour connects veterans to local mental health services including free, in-person counseling. Receive help with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, PTSD and more by searching Give An Hour’s provider directory.
- Homecoming For Veterans offers access to clinicians and counselors to offer sessions to veterans at no cost.
Online Communities and Peer Support
Help and outreach is also as close as your computer or phone, as many websites offer veterans access to a range of mental health services.
- Patients Like Me connects veterans with those who are living in similar situations and may understand what you’re going through. Register for free at the Patients Like Me website.
- Vets 4 Warriors offers confidential peer support from other veterans to veterans and active-duty personnel. Find information on the Vets 4 Warriors website or call 1-855-838-8255.
- Mission Reconnect invites veterans to practice to learn about an evidence-based program of mind and body therapies used to support mental well-being and resilience.
Other Mental Health Resources
There are still other resources geared toward connecting veterans and active-duty personnel with mental health resources and support.
- The National Institute of Mental Health offers information on a variety of topics and trials that allow access to free treatment. Call 1-866-615-6464.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Mental Health Information Center offers a Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to assist those seeking treatment. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- The National Resource Directory can connect veterans and their families with a range of support programs.
About The Author
Craig Richardson is a military veteran who started his journalism career while serving in the Navy. Following overseas deployments to the Med and Middle East, including service in Operation Desert Storm, he left for the private sector but continued with journalism. He has worked for several publishers and news organizations over nearly 30 years and continued to cover stories with ties to veterans and military affairs throughout his career.
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