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How to support veterans after America's longest war

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Posted at 6:44 AM, Sep 01, 2021

COLORADO SPRINGS — The ending of America’s longest war has left many veterans with a feeling of mixed emotions. It has also left some wondering how to offer support to these veterans who are now coping with the war’s aftermath?

Duane France, an Afghanistan veteran and now therapist, told News5 there are feelings of frustration and sadness following the events over these past few weeks. He explains that the ending of the Afghanistan War surfaces feelings from past events that may have happened over the 20 years the war lasted. France says that offering a lending ear is the most important thing you can do to help your vet right now.

“First thing is to be respectful, right, to just be patient and kind. It may take a couple of different times to let a veteran know that you want to hear what happened or that you ask them to share as much as they want to. Understanding that sometimes they won’t, right, sometimes they won’t talk about it, not because they don’t want to talk to you about it, but because they want to spare someone from some of the stress that they feel,” France said.

France goes on to state that showing you care is important to veterans because they might be struggling with PTSD. Acts of support from family and friends could go a long way for veterans who may be suffering in silence.

“Vietnam veterans who had been fairly stable and who had been employed and things like that we're experiencing things even 20, 30, 40 years after they came back from combat," France said. "So, I think this is one thing just to have a level of awareness about if things are changing from the inside to outside, that I just need to reach out for help and connect with somebody who can really support me.”

Fortunately, the conversation about mental health in the military is changing. France last served about 10 years ago and he recalls many soldiers believing they should “suck it up” when it came to mental health concerns. Today, he says vets are more willing to get the help they need.

For those veterans who are looking for someone to talk to, there is an app known as Objective Zero that connects veterans to other vets.

Join us on News5 from 4-7pm tonight, September 1 as we bring you special coverage from Fort Carson and Mt. Carmel Veteran Service Center in Colorado Springs.

You can watch using our KOAA News5 streaming channel, available on your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV or Android TV.

KOAA News5 has more resources as You Are Not Alone in this effort. We've compiled resources for help locally in-person, on the phone, chat and more.