Pentagon to increase mental health outreach following Afghanistan collapse

Pentagon to increase mental health outreach following Afghanistan collapse
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The Pentagon this month will ramp up mental health outreach to veterans and service members involved in the recently ended Afghanistan War.

Many current and former service members in the past several weeks have expressed frustration, disappointment and despair with how the 20-year conflict ended, a disastrous conclusion that has triggered anxiety and mental health issues.

With September designated as suicide prevention month at the Pentagon, “we want to make clear that there are resources available, and I think you’ll hear more from department leadership communicating that across the force,” Pentagon press secretary John KirbyJohn KirbyErdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — The Quad confab Top nuclear policy appointee removed from Pentagon post: report MORE told reporters Thursday.

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“The health, safety and well-being of our military community is essential to the readiness of the total force,” Kirby said. “We all recognize that the events in just the recent past, certainly the last month or so, will factor in and potentially bear heavily on some of our Afghan war vets.”

After the fall of Kabul on Aug. 15, the Department of Veterans Affairs saw an uptick in calls to the crisis hotline.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Gen. Milley faces his toughest day yet on Capitol Hill Republican lawmakers warn against more military coordination with Russia MORE on Thursday said he has “pain and anger” over the events in Afghanistan “over the last 20 years and over the last 20 days.”

“I have all the same emotions, and I’m sure the secretary does, and anyone who served. And I commanded troops. And I wasn’t born a four-star general. I have walked the patrols and been blown up and shot at and RPG’d and everything else. My pain and anger comes from the same as those grieving families, the same as those soldiers that are on the ground,” Milley told reporters at the Pentagon.

“When we see what has unfolded over the last 20 years and over the last 20 days, that creates pain and anger. And mine comes from 242 of my soldiers killed in action over 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. So yeah, I have that,” he added.

Kirby declined to go into details as to any specific mental health outreach efforts but said “you’ll continue to hear throughout this month additional messages from department leadership about that issue but also just writ large how that ties into mental health in particular.”