VA buddy check program helping local Afghanistan veterans

Calhoun County

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The events unfolding in Afghanistan have been hard to watch, particularly for our veterans who served in the Middle East.

A local Veteran Affairs center announced it is offering support with a program called the Afghanistan Veteran Buddy Check. It’s a virtual event put on by the Battle Creek VA Medical Center.

“We really thought it was important to bring post-9/11 veterans together to talk about what resources are available,” said Brian Pegouske, the public affairs officer for the Battle Creek VA Medical Center.

There is help: That’s the message from the Battle Creek VA Medical Center. This online session is working to make sure the resources reach our veterans, who during difficult times can start to isolate.

“In the military, buddy checks are always important, so you always want to watch out for your battle buddies and the men and women serving next to you. So, this is just a reminder that, hey you might not need services right now or you might be feeling OK, but have you reached out to your buddy lately to make sure they are OK?” Pegouske said. 

According to the Battle Creek VA Medical Center, the suicide crisis line is seeing an increase in calls. Veterans who fought in Afghanistan are left with many emotions as they watch the county they fought to protect get taken over again by the Taliban.

“If you served in Afghanistan, you are going to have a number of feelings that maybe not everybody understands,” Pegouske added. 

The information session is Friday at noon. To participate, call 855.274.1447 or watch the livestream on the Battle Creek VA Medical Center Facebook page. It will provide information on coping skills as well as virtual and in-person resources that are available.

“We hope that the Afghanistan veterans understand no matter what the current circumstances are, their service matters,” Pegouske said. “They’ve signed up and signed a blank check up, including their life and we are glad they are back home and safe and we want to keep them that way.”

Everyone is welcome. The VA is encouraging family and friends of veterans to join.

RESOURCES AVAILABLE NOW

  • Veterans Crisis Line: If you or a veteran you know is having thoughts of suicide, call 1.800.273.8255, then press 1 or visit http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/. To seek emergency mental health care, go to your local VA medical center 24/7, regardless of discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care.
  • Vet Centers: Discuss how you feel with other veterans in counseling centers where 70% of staff are veterans. For more information, call 1.877.927.8387.
  • VA Mental Health Services Guide: Helps with signing up and accessing mental health services. For information, resources and more, visit maketheconnection.net.
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