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THE VETERANS' PRESS: Reach out and stay connected to the veteran in your life. Be there

| September 21, 2021 1:00 AM

For a veteran facing hard times, your support can provide hope when it’s needed most — and you already have what it takes to show you care. Take a few minutes to check in today.

Here are some ideas to help you get started with a call, text or email:

Online: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

By phone: 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1

Text: 838255

Chat: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/chat

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Talking on the phone with your veteran loved ones can strengthen your connection. Calling to just catch up is important — especially during this unpredictable time.

• Not only does an open and honest conversation help people feel less alone, but it also can give you a window into their experiences.

If you’re worried about someone, you might need to have a more serious conversation.

• Remind them you are there for them, even if physically apart. It’s easier to feel isolated these days — so reaching out is more important than ever.

Validate their experience. Listen more than you speak — don’t dominate the conversation. Even if you can’t relate to what they are going through, you can tell them you understand that they went through something difficult and show them you respect their feelings about it.

Let them decide how much information to share. Supportive and encouraging comments, rather than invasive personal questions, will create a space for open communication and avoid putting them on the defensive.

If you’re concerned, it’s OK to ask directly if they are thinking about suicide. Asking questions about thoughts of suicide does not increase a person’s suicide risk, and the answers can help you determine the next steps to take.