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Miss. VA Medical Center Works to Alleviate Mental Health Issues in Vets

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 25 Sep 2013 08:01am | comments
Photo courtesy of Lawayne Childrey/MPB News

This  year officials at G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson have reported 21 suicide attempts among veterans and two deaths. That number is down from last year when 22 attempts and 4 suicides were reported but officials in Mississippi are addressing the problem.

 After serving six years in the U.S. Army Veteran Adrian Hayes of Jackson has suffered a number of mental health issues.   

"I had a lot of bumps in the road, a lot of hardships, which led me to using drugs, just doing a whole lot of things that were out of my character as a person, but I have a sound mind now thanks to all the benefits the military has" says Hayes.  

During a homeless veterans event in Jackson yesterday  Hayes said he is now clean and sober. However, he says he has a growing  concern for his brother who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan as a shadow of the man he once knew.

"He was violent, he was moody, he was just talking out the side of his head, financially he was at a low, low point, but you have to touch the root of the problem, what caused cause somebody to be so traumatized by things that they saw in the war, things that they had to endure, family seperation, there are so many things that you probably couldn't even imagine," continues Hayes.

Army statistics show that the number of soldiers discharged for having mental disabilities such as post traumatic stress disorders has increased 174 percent since 2009. Dr. Shawn Clark is a clinical psychologists at the VA hospital in Jackson. She says they too have seen a significant increase in the number of veterans overall having difficulty engaging back into the community. Clark says in addition to medications and psychological therapy they are also addressing the issue through the use of peer counseling.

"They're telling them not to give up on themselves, to maintain hope, they're telling them how to access the resouces that are available how to appropriately use the resources that are available so that they can be successful, particularly transitioning from the stigma of having a mental health diagnosis to understanding that everybody has something and that even with those illnesses, we can still be productive members of society and functional," explains Clark.

A recent Pentagon analysis found that for the first time in 15 years, mental health disorders caused more hospitalizations among U.S. troops than any other medical condition including battle wounds. 








Photo courtesy of Lawayne Childrey/MPB News



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