Actions

Mental health services available to Las Vegas area vets coping with pandemic, more

Poor mental health reduces life expectancy, says study
Posted at 3:20 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 09:02:17-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — So many people are feeling fear, isolation, and anxiety during the pandemic. Our veterans are among them… and too many of those are reluctant to reach out for help. 13 Action News anchor Tricia Kean takes a look at the services available right here in the valley.

"I was doing some stuff I normally wouldn't do. Started drinking. That normally wasn't me. I was a gym rat. So my lifestyle did a 180," said Navy veteran Anthony Davis.

FELT LIKE A FAILURE

He says he needed help long before he realized it.

"I'll be candid with you. I remember there was a period where [for] two and a half weeks I didn't take a shower. I just didn't have a sense of responsibility. I felt like a failure at the time," said Anthony.

NOT PLUGGED INTO SYSTEM

He eventually started getting the treatment he needs from Veteran Affairs. But there are other vets across the country that need to take that first step.

"Of the 20 veterans a day who commit suicide, which we're starting to see those numbers trickle down, 14 of them are not plugged into the VA system. So that's a big number of veterans who could benefit from our system," said Tim Jobin, associate chief of staff for behavioral health services for the VA of Southern Nevada.

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

There are 109,000 eligible vets who could receive assistance from the VA of Southern Nevada, but only about 30,000 are using mental health services including alcohol and drug addiction treatment, post traumatic stress disorder services, or psychotherapy.

The VA also has a new residential program called LVR3; Las Vegas Residential Renewal and Recovery Center.

"Our veterans can come live here for up to 45 days. We have that going on right now. It's very safe the way we have it set up due to COVID. They can get a lot of treatment during that time," said Jobim.

TIME DOESN'T HEAL ALL WOUNDS

Best of all, the VA will provide vets with transportation. They also have a telehealth program called VA Video Connect, for individual and group therapy.

"I know there's an old adage, time heals all wounds. Unfortunately, that's just not true for some of these emotional wounds," said VA Clinical Psychologist Dr. Nicole Anders.

She says some vets are ignoring the pain for far too long.

"And I think right now during this pandemic it is so normal for people to feel isolated, to feel alone, to feel depressed, anxious. There's a lot of unknowns. I think it would be more abnormal if they weren't feeling that way," said Dr. Anders.

THE SYSTEM WORKS

But she says a vet has to take the first step and contact the VA before they can begin to heal.

"We have a system. We have these protocols and they work and we see results," said Dr. Anders.

Anthony knows that for a fact and wants others to trust the system.

VA CRISIS LINE

"I myself am in recovery. I get my treatment here at the VA. So I'm a living example of what's possible. I have good and bad days but like anyone, you brush yourself off and recover," said Anthony.

If you or a Veteran you know needs help, call the VA Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK. The line is open 24-hours a day.