By Kenneth McGrath

Alabama faces the tragic reality of having one of the nation’s highest veteran suicide rates.

According to the Alabama Department of Veteran Affairs, in 2020 152 veterans in Alabama took their own lives.

Alabama is home to approximately 400,000 veterans and although veterans represent about 10% of the state’s population, Alabama veterans also represent a disproportionate 18% of suicides.

“I want veterans to know it is okay to come forward if they’re feeling like they’re in a crisis, those of us who have served in uniform for some reason, we think there is a stigma about coming forward and there shouldn’t be,” said Kent Davis who’s the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs.

That’s where Alabama’s Challenge comes in. It’s led by the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, and is a statewide effort to combat a continuing stigma that veterans face with mental health.

A town hall was held Wednesday in Dothan, and Mobile will soon be hosting one as well. A date still needs to be set for some time this year.

More locations for town halls in Alabama are expected to be announced in the coming weeks and months.

Veterans Recovery Resources in Mobile is a great place for veterans to start who are seeking help

Jeremy Fletcher, who’s the Director of Community Integration for Veterans Recovery Resources, says whether you’re a teacher, a coach, or a minister, all of us need to be there for our vets and listen to them.

“I want them to know that I’ve been there myself, I want them to know that I’ve had those struggles myself, I want them to know that they’re not alone and recovering from anything that they’re experiencing is possible and that the enemy in this is isolation and what we’ve got to be able to do is connect,” said Fletcher.

Davis and Kent both tell NBC 15 News some of the best places for veterans to turn to are fellow veterans.

Article Link: