The risk of suicide is a serious concern formembers of the Armed Forces and their families today, and the American Red Cross is working to help reduce that risk.
Today members of the military face frequent deployments and long absences from their families and communities. They endure prolonged exposure to traumatic events and injuries, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
The Red Cross helps the military member and their families by teaching courses that build strength and resiliency which helps prepare for deployment, but also for returning home to the family. Provided by volunteer licensed mental health facilitators, the Red Cross offers Coping with Deployment and Reconnection Workshops classes.
Coping with Deployments helps military families learn about their strengths and how to become stronger in times of stress by supporting each other during challenging life circumstances. It is specifically designed for the spouses, parents, older children, siblings and significant others of service members, veterans and their families. The course also serves as a link to other military families in the community.
Reconnection Workshops offer a series of modules that address post-deployment topics to help ease the transition when the military member returns home. Topics include Communicating Clearly, Exploring Stress and Trauma, Identifying Depression, Relating to Children and Working Through Anger. The workshops are available to all those impacted by a military deployment from all branches of the Armed Forces, Reserve and National Guard units, veterans and their families.
Those taking the workshops learn about the warning signs of suicide and the myths and truths associated with suicide. They learn how trauma can be manifested through Post Traumatic Symptom (PTS), TBI and Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) or Mild TBI. Individuals also learn that anger in itself is healthy and, when expressed appropriately, can be productive. Through these modules, service members and families use proactive coping to reduce feelings associated with suicidal thoughts and ease a smooth transition and reintegration back to the family.
“Individuals learn to communicate in healthy ways, with honesty, respect and without judgment,” said Diane Manwill, LPC LMFT LCPC-S, senior mental health associate for Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces. “They learn that stress can be healthy and unhealthy, as well as the signs and symptoms of depression, when to seek help and how to recognize depression in others.”
CRISIS LINE The Red Cross is also working with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to help ensure veterans and active duty members of the military get the help they need. The Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat or text.
If a call comes in to the crisis line from a veteran, the crisis line initiates actions to help. If a call comes in concerning someone currently on active duty, the call is immediately put through to the Red Cross. In close association with the military, the Red Cross can immediately locate the service member in crisis and request that the person’s command intervene to ensure the person is safe. The Red Cross can help regardless of where the person is currently serving, whether here at home, overseas, deployed to a combat zone or aboard a ship out at sea.
If someone is not on current assignment, the Crisis Line and Red Cross work with local law enforcement to assist in locating and intervening to help retirees, veterans and other military members.
Any member of the U.S. military, veteran or military family member can contact the American Red Cross Call Center or the Veteran and Military Crisis Lines 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at: