The mental health of veterans and active military service members is a concern and priority for military help groups and nonprofits as they watch the fall of the Afghan government.
Lyette Reback is the CEO of Believe With Me, a nonprofit that gives Christmas presents to children in Gold Star families and supports those families year-round.
Gold Star families are those who lost loved ones as a result of their service to the military.
Reback worries the latest developments in Afghanistan pose a threat to the mental health of veterans already struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
She has been calling and reaching out to veterans she knows to check-in.
“Saying, 'How are you? Are you OK?'” Reback said.
In her calls, she’s also reaching out to her large network of widows, including one who also helps military families.
“And when I called to reach out to say, 'How are you doing?' She said, 'Not good. We had 49 emergency calls this weekend and we lost a guy.' When the news is so bad that you’d rather take your life than watch it, I think that’s just so horrible,” Reback said.
Reback said about 35% of the families she serves lost their loved ones to a PTSD-related suicide.
“I want to serve more families but I don’t want more of these families made,” Reback said.
Scott Lavallee, a 211 MYFLVET Resource Specialist said their hotline connects veterans seeking help with other veterans who best understand what they’re going through.
“Some are feeling frustrated and angry and certainly that’s what the crisis line is for, to kind of talk through these things,” Lavallee said.
Right now, they want veterans and active military to know regardless of the outcome in Afghanistan, their sacrifice and service had meaning and purpose.
“They helped keep Afghanistan safe. They did their job when they were out there,” Lavallee said.
“For the kids who did get an education. For the wife who did get a job. For the families who did taste freedom,” Reback said. “We have to believe all of that blood sweat and tears is not for nothing.”
If you’re a veteran suffering with PTSD or if you know one, you can find resources at ptsd.va.gov.
This story was originally published by Meghan McRoberts at WPTV.