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Lubbock leaders encouraging veterans to reach out after 15% rise in military suicides

Local leaders say connecting veterans with local veteran groups can help fight this devastating trend
(KCBD Video)
Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 4:38 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock leaders are encouraging veterans to get involved in local groups as they try to fight a recent increase in the number of military suicides.

In 2020, there were 580 military suicides, compared to 504 the year before.

“When you peel it back, you realize that these guys and gals never sought treatment. They never went to go visit the place that we have fought for, which is the VA. We fought for years to make sure that we had a VA, not just locally but nationally there is a VA. And that VA, we need to take advantage of it because it offers us the resources that we need to make ourselves better,” says Benny Guerrero, retired marine and commander at the Lubbock VFW.

Guerrero says veterans struggling with mental health issues can find community and understanding at local veteran groups.

Congressman Jodey Arrington is also encouraging veterans to reach out and take advantage of the extensive veteran community in Lubbock.

“We have a great veteran community here, with numerous leaders in those communities. Veteran service organizations, like the American Legion and others, and then we have this jewel of a veterans super clinic.”

The new Lubbock VA clinic has a wide range of mental health resources.

Staff there say, based on annual reports, just being engaged with VA services greatly reduces the risk of suicide.

Just reaching out, Guerrero says, is the first step.

“When we deployed, we deployed as a unit. When you get better, you get better as a unit. So we get together with people who have already walked those shoes and build you back up and get you back well, and then eventually, you become the leader of a group that is helping someone else.”

If you, or a veteran you know is struggling with mental health, speak with someone at the Lubbock VA clinic. There is also a veterans crisis line available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 (and select 1).

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