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Veterans struggling with events in Afghanistan

The current situation in Afghanistan is distressing for many. There are resources to help you cope.

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The current situation in Afghanistan is distressing for many Canadians, Veterans and their families but especially for those Veterans who served there. During this time, Veterans may be asking themselves difficult questions or revisiting experiences and relationships formed during their service or deployments. Their families may be struggling along with them.

In reaction to current events in the region, Veterans may:

  • Feel frustrated, sad, and helpless
  • Feel distressed and preoccupied
  • Feel angry or betrayed
  • Experience moral distress
  • Struggle with questions of the meaning of our time in Afghanistan
  • Experience an increase in symptoms of Operational Stress Injuries like PTSD or depression
  • Sleep poorly
  • Increase alcohol or drug use or participation in other addictive behaviors
  • Overconsume or try to avoid media
  • Isolate themselves
  • Have more disturbing memories and nightmares about military service
  • Worry about those left behind

All of these reactions are understandable in this distressing context. If you are a Veteran or a family member struggling in reaction to current events, please know that you are not alone. Talk to your friends and family members, connect with your Veteran network, peer support resources, or contact a mental health professional.

Resources available right now

  • Crisis Services Canada: If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, please call 1-833-456-4566 for a safe and judgement-free place to talk. If this is an emergency, call 911.
  • The VAC Assistance Service: Call 1-800-268-7708 to speak to a mental health professional for psychological support. Available 24/7 at no cost to Veterans and their family members.
  • OSI Clinics and Satellite Service Sites: Services include in-person and virtual mental health assessment and treatment to address mental health issues related to service, or that interfere with your rehabilitation. To request a possible referral you can send a secure message via your My VAC Account or call 1-866-522-2122.
  • OSISS: Talk to a peer support worker who understands operational stress injuries and can offer needed support.
  • HOPE program: Provides you and your family with peer support if you have experienced the loss of a loved one.
  • Wellness Together Canada: This online mental health and substance use support portal provides 24/7 access to free evidence-based tools and resources.
  • PTSD Coach Canada - mobile application: This app can help you learn about and manage symptoms that can occur after trauma.

Some positive strategies

  • Stay connected. Spend time with people who best understand what you are going through, and who give you a sense of security, calm, hope and happiness.
  • Contact the different resources available to you
  • Practice good self-care. Look for positive strategies that help you manage your emotions. Listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals or journaling are some common ways to help manage overwhelming or distressing emotions.
  • Be patient with yourself. Understand that time is required to recuperate.
  • Stick to your routines. It can be helpful to stick to a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work, and do other day-to-day activities.

Limit media exposure. Limit how much news you take in if media coverage is increasing your distress.

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