Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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Massachusetts steps up for Puerto Rico, the White House convenes its first hunger conference in more than 50 years, and hydroponics could be the future of tomatoes in California.

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Arizona's Sen. Kyrsten Simema defends the filibuster, the CBO says student loan forgiveness could cost $400 billion, and whistleblower Edward Snowden is granted Russian citizenship.

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The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts two winters across the U.S., the Inflation Reduction Act could level the playing field for rural electric co-ops, and pharmacies are dwindling in rural America.

Mental-Health Support Available for Virginia's Veterans, Active-Duty Military

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Tuesday, May 31, 2022   

Virginia is home to more than 780,000 military veterans, and one organization is offering mental and emotional support.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness' (NAMI) Homefront program is a free, six-class course for veterans, active-duty military members and their families.

Mary Beth Walsh, director of programs for NAMI-Virginia, said military families often have their own unique mental and emotional needs, which the program aims to address.

"It's an educational course that helps lead family members through ways that they can not only help their loved ones, but also ways that they can focus on themselves and gain support for their own needs," Walsh explained.

In addition to NAMI's program, the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) also offers care via its mental-health specialty clinics, primary-care clinics, nursing homes and residential-care facilities. Walsh pointed out NAMI also partners with VA facilities to offer peer-to-peer support programs, which emphasize connecting veterans with folks who have shared experiences.

Walsh noted the peer-to-peer support model is used across NAMI's other mental-health programs, but is particularly important for veterans. As she explained, military veterans have a unique culture, language and experiences.

"Being able to talk to somebody who has been there and can really say, 'I've been through what you're going through,' it's such a huge aspect of what can really help somebody feel not so isolated and alone," Walsh emphasized.

Dr. Rhonda Randall, executive vice president and chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare employer and individual, said there are a few signs people should keep an eye out for if they think someone is struggling with their mental health.

"Things that you really worry about are like loss of interest in things, a loss of feeling happiness or pleasure, really feeling helpless or hopeless," Randall advised. "Generally, we get concerned when those kinds of feelings persist for more than two weeks."

According to the federal government, more than 1.7 million veterans received mental-health counseling through a VA program in the 2018 fiscal year. The department also has a veterans' crisis phone line for emergency situations.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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