Jacksonville, FL - As we learn more details about the suspected Navy Yard shooter, we’re finding a past filled with criminal and mental health problems.
But the City of Jacksonville wants to make sure no veteran goes without the services and care he or she needs.
“The large percentage are just looking for jobs, looking for an opportunity to reintegrate themselves and their community,” says Rear Admiral Vic Guillory.
Guillory leads Jacksonville’s Veteran and Military Affairs Department, which provides help to veterans and their families in finding and preparing for civilian jobs, getting VA benefits and more. While this day-to-day focus makes up most of their responsibility, Guillory tells me the office will now be stepping up awareness and promotion of the resources available to those in need of professional mental health services as well.
“We have to be sensitive, I think, and we have to do everything we can to heighten awareness to the types of issues facing not only our veterans, but really what many say is a large and growing issue in ensuring that we take care of our neighbors,” he says.
One such resource is the national crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 option 1, which provides around the clock support for veterans and their families. Guillory says you can also call 211 for access to local resources.
But a prevailing problem in spreading the word about these resources themselves is the stubborn stigma surrounding mental health issues among veterans.
“We have to just face it like we do everything else in this community and deal with it,” he says.
Guillory says the city is doing its part on this by hosting summits highlighting problems facing veterans like suicide. They are also speaking at events like Rotary Club meetings in order to get an open and public conversation going.
But before it even gets to crisis level, he says the community itself can play a big role in helping as well. He says you need to keep an eye out on family, friends and neighbors- especially ones who are veterans- to make sure any problems are not going unnoticed.