Lawmakers, mental health professionals highlight help for veterans

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio lawmakers, veterans, and mental health professionals sent a message Monday to veterans that help is out there if they need it.

The past few weeks have been painful for many veterans as they watch events unfold in Afghanistan. A group of lawmakers, many of them veterans themselves, gathered to remind veterans that they matter.

“Sometimes the emotional and mental burden becomes too heavy, and we have to take a knee and ask for help and there’s no shame in that,” said Major General John Harris, the adjutant general for Ohio.

The two barriers to getting help for veterans are knowing what’s out there and being willing to ask for it. Lawmakers recommend veterans call the Ohio CareLine at 1-800-720-9616 or the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.

“It’s someone to listen and someone to connect you to services and support if you need it,” said Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Lori Criss.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, himself a veteran, said if that’s not an option for you, call one of your fellow service members.

“Call one of your teammates, call one of your battle buddies you haven’t talked to in a while,” he said. “That whole thing about never leaving somebody behind that’s not just on the battlefield that’s here, too.”

For those who may know someone who’s struggling or even those who don’t, Rep. Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) said take down these numbers and keep them.

“Just to put that number in your cell phone because you never know when you’re going to need it,” Ghanbari, himself a veteran, said. “You could stumble across someone that might be in crisis, and you can pick your phone up and call that number. I have done it for several veterans myself.”

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