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New Florida law pushes for more mental health assistance for veterans as suicides spike

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Posted at 6:25 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 18:25:45-05

Florida Congressman Michael Waltz, a combat-decorated Green Beret, has struggled with a Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD.

"I suffered personally for years with survivor's guilt for some of the Green Berets that I was responsible for that I lost as their commander, that I didn't bring home," Waltz explained.

And he believes society needs to change their thinking about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to 'Post Traumatic Growth.'

"I've grown from those painful and difficult experiences, and I think the more we begin looking at it that way, the less of a stigma it is for when a veteran goes to those deep dark mental places to say 'ya know what, I need some help and to reach out and to get it,'" Waltz said.

"Isolation has always been the contributing factor of veterans taking their lives, and Covid has exasperated that," said Garrett Cathcart, an army veteran, and director of Mission Roll Call.

That's a national organization helping improve veteran's mental health, which Cathcart knows personally is needed.

"From my own experience, my first year was pretty tough. My platoon behind me there, four of those guys didn't come back, and I was with them when they were killed," Cathcart explained.

Both gentlemen say more needs to be done because the VA's program is failing veterans.

"We've almost quadrupled their budget in the last decade and we're still losing 20 to 22 veterans per day due to suicide. It's unacceptable and we've got to change the way we do business," said Waltz.

So they created and pushed through Senate Bill 785, which just became law that instructs the VA to expand veterans' access to mental health services.

"It's pushing grants down to the veteran's services organizations that are at the community level. And that are on the level with the veteran, whether it's in their homes or in their communities, not through a mass of bureaucracy in Washington D.C.," Waltz explained.

Another part of this legislation is more services for all veterans.

"We need to provide service dogs, hyperbaric chambers, a whole menu of out of the box issues that anecdotally and through studies have proven to be very effective," Waltz said.

And for veterans still struggling? They say don't give up.

"My advice is crystal clear, reach out. Talk to someone. You're not alone," Waltz said.

To read more about the "Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act" and how this new law will assist veterans in need, click here.

And if you know of a veteran who needs help right away, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or text 8-3-8-2-5-5 or go to veteranscrisisline.net.

Mission Roll Call has launched a mental health campaign called 'From My Front-line to Yours.'

To find out more and get involved, go to www.Missionrollcall.Org.