J. Marc Burgess, National Adjutant
You are not alone
It’s difficult to believe we are marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. For so many, myself included, the memories of that day are so vivid that it simply does not feel so far removed in the timeline of our lives.
But in the two decades that have now passed, much has changed—especially as we have all watched the situation over the past several weeks unfold in Afghanistan, including the tragic loss of military personnel and civilians during the evacuation efforts.
In the wake of 9/11, we sent our sons and daughters to war. Those who have served know all too well that war doesn’t just last the six months or year spent on the ground. Its impact can last years or even a lifetime. As an organization founded and led by those who bear the scars of battle, we can empathize with our veterans of Afghanistan. Having spoken with many veterans of this war who form our ranks, I have a better understanding of the vast range of emotions they have been experiencing and how those feelings can negatively affect their well-being.
There may be anger, hurt, sadness, even relief in some cases. The emotions are complex and deeply personal to each individual veteran. There is no “wrong way” to feel. And coupled with the past year and all the difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, some veterans may be at risk of experiencing serious mental health crises. That’s especially true for those who have sacrificed so much over the past two decades.
Please know that you are not alone. DAV, its members and service officers—many of whom are Afghanistan veterans themselves—are here for you and ready to provide assistance should you need it.
The VA has made a push to highlight resources for those in need, including:
- The Veterans Crisis Line—available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1; texting 838255; or visiting veteranscrisisline.net.
- VA emergency mental health care services—available at VA facilities, regardless of discharge or enrollment status.
- Local VA Vet Centers for care in your own community.
- MakeTheConnection.net to identify available mental health, suicide prevention and substance use disorder resources.
I am proud of our nation’s veterans and the incredible contributions they have made over the past 20 years. DAV recognizes the many sacrifices you have made and the scars you bear as a result. We are here for you, and we will continue to stand at the ready to help.
If you want to find out more about the National Adjutant, you can find his biography here.