COLORADO SPRINGS — All of the chaos, unrest, and turmoil taking place overseas could bring up prior events in some veterans' minds. These thoughts could have risen even before the news of deadly attacks against US forces working to evacuate allies from the Kabul airport.
Some veterans may be questioning their purpose, their service, and the sacrifice they made for their country.
Unfortunately, Colorado has a veteran suicide rate higher than the national average, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs. The Suicide Prevention Collaborative of El Paso County is a local partnership working to address this problem thanks to SB-129, which created a Veteran Suicide Prevention Pilot Program.
"Suicide is a complex and serious public health challenge that has claimed the lives of more than 600 Veterans in our community since 2004. Unfortunately, it is believed that El Paso County has the highest numbers of deaths by suicide in Colorado, due to its concentration of the largest number of Service Members and Veterans in the state," Mayor John Suthers said earlier this year.
Over at Mt. Carmel Veterans Center, the organization helps an estimated 150 veterans every week with their programs.
"We are definitely hearing some responses regarding the turmoil in Afghanistan," said Kirsten Belaire, Director of Behavioral Health at Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center.
Services include benefit support, employment, behavioral health, education, support groups, and yoga classes.
Hans Drupiewski is a veteran and clinical intern at Mt. Carmel. He spent six years in combat overseas.
He says the recent events have reopened a wound as he watches everything transpire. "It's disheartening. You put a lot of effort into something and to see nothing unfold of it," Drupiewski.
Drupiewski says for all soldiers, "you come back home and you think it's done but it's not."
Upon returning home, Drupiewski sought out help. He was connected with Mt. Carmel. "I have done six tours in combat and people say what is the hardest thing you did and I say go to therapy," said Drupiewski.
Drupiewski now works with veterans, who like him, still live with the scar they received while serving, both physical and mental. "I had to be vulnerable and re-expose myself to those experiences you try to shut away," said Drupiewski.
"If you are going through this process of trying to find help, I would say don't give up. Keep looking for a therapist that works for you," said Drupiewski.
Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center is just one of the organizations helping veterans in our area and accepting your help to continue their mission. These organizations in Colorado and nationally who also work to help veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Operation TBI Freedom: A Program of Craig Hospital
565 Communications Cir #100 Colorado Springs, CO 80905
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