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Local VA hospital increasing mental health resources amid Taliban take over in Afghanistan

Posted at 7:42 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 05:08:37-04

Many U.S. service members, veterans and active-duty members who served in Afghanistan are having a hard time dealing with the chaos in that region following the Taliban take over.

The local VA is stepping in to help.

RELATED: As chaos reigns, Tampa Afghan veteran worries about troops and citizens

“I have a lot of concerns,” said retired U.S. Army Col. Dj Reyes.

Reyes said he’s sad and devastated watching what’s going on over there.

According to the White House, 2,338 American service members, 3,846 U.S. contractors, 66,000 Afghan military and police officers, 47,245 Afghan Civilians have died during the past two decades of the Afghanistan war. The cost of the war is in the trillions.

Veterans, like Reyes, believe the worst is yet to come now that the Taliban is back in power. He said that’s why some of the men and women he served with are having a hard time seeing the images coming out of that part of the region.

“We know what’s coming next with the over-taking by the Taliban under Sharia Law,” he said. “We understand the harshness that now will be applied, especially to the women and the children.”

The James A Haley VA hospital has increased mental health services, including their veterans' crisis line, to help vets cope with what’s happening.

“We have lots of different resources available for our servicemen and women, and we encourage them to take advantage of those services,” said Dr. Ronald Gironda.

Gironda is the chief of psychology at the VA. He said you can go to their website and see which resources are available. For immediate help, he suggests calling the crisis line 800-273-talk.

He said it’s also important for people who aren’t in the service to step up and help as well. He said we need to be proactive and help them before it’s too late.

“Not all veterans are going to reach out for help,” he said. “You have to look for the warning signs. Veterans who are isolated, or withdrawing from society can be a significant risk to themselves.”