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To Reduce Mental Health Stigma among Veterans, Higher Education Must Be the Catalyst

Posted: February 08, 2017

In 2014, 55 U.S. military service members died fighting in Afghanistan. Today, an average of 20 veterans lose their lives every day to suicide, according to a recent report by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

We do a spectacular job of providing our citizens with resources they need to keep our country safe. But the moment these brave men and women come home, there is a profound opportunity to better support their adjustment back to civilian life.

A recent Morning Consult survey from the University of Phoenix, College of Social Sciences, demonstrated that misconception and stigma complicate the support for veteran mental health. According to the survey, one in five Americans believe people with mental illnesses are dangerous and 24 percent said they wouldn’t tell anyone if they had a mental illness. Furthermore, 10 percent of Americans don’t believe that mental illness is a real medical problem. These findings have considerable implications for reaching veterans who need services.

We believe that higher education can play a larger role in changing misconceptions and reducing stigma related to veteran mental health. In order to begin to make headway, educators must stand as role models committed to honoring and serving this next greatest generation of veterans as they continue to serve; transition; and become members of the greater civilian community. Educational institutions must make concerted efforts to have a meaningful impact on the lives of veterans, the lives of their families, their communities, and generations to come.

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