'Just tell them that you're there': How to help struggling Afghanistan veterans

92 for 22 trying to offer help as situation complicates in Afghanistan
Posted at 10:20 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 22:20:40-04

(WSYM) — For those with Afghanistan veterans, it’s likely been a tough few days.

As the nation descends back into the hands of the Taliban, those who served in the region are watching much of the work they did come undone.

“That feeling of, just, helplessness,” said Mike Banno with veterans’ group 92 for 22. “That everything that they did is just being unraveled and it’s outside of their control.”

RELATED: Afghan president flees the country as Taliban move on Kabul

As suggested in their name, 92 for 22 raises funds and resource awareness for veterans to lower the estimated 22 veterans per day that commit suicide.

“The statistics are just staggering; it’s sad, it’s unfortunate,” said Banno. “There’s that sense of helplessness and we’re trying to get in front of that.”

While 92 for 22 is doing what they can to help vets, Banno says civilians have a role to play in the lives of any Afghanistan veterans they know who might be in need of help.

“I think there’s this realization of ‘I wasn’t enlisted; I can’t help,’ and that’s not the case,” he said. “Be compassionate and open and reach out and just tell them that you’re there.”

A 2014 Department of Defense study revealed one in five Afghanistan veterans showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, so Banno says now is the time to check in and offer help.

“Any action is better than inaction,” he said. “Veterans are stubborn, and I think the best thing that we can do is encourage people. It’s okay to not be okay. None of us are mental health professionals, but we understand that there needs to be some normalization around not being okay.”

Friday at noon, the Battle Creek VA is hosting a virtual information session for post-9/11 veterans in particular. To attend that virtual meeting tomorrow, visit the Battle Creek VA’s Facebook page.

READ MORE: As America prepares to leave Afghanistan, take a look at what the US sacrificed there