The Northwest Pennsylvania (NW PA) Veteran Suicide Prevention Program operates on a three-pronged approach involving healthcare providers, community organizations, and Veterans and their families in the 15 counties of NW PA. The PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) is an active partner and responsible for ensuring that the Program integrates current Veteran suicide prevention initiatives throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Veterans and caregivers of Veterans who need assistance, should reach out to their local VA facility.
If you have any questions or would like to speak with someone about publicizing the NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program in your community, please reach out to us.
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Coping with Holiday Loneliness
By Bob McDonald, Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Our Veterans, like most people, can become susceptible to loneliness during the holidays. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as social isolation, the loss of a loved one or family member, financial difficulties, mental health struggles or just having unrealistic expectations.
Having the right tactics and strategy can be a real help for Veterans who face holiday loneliness. Below are some tips to help get you through the next few months:
- Reach out to friends and family. Even if you can’t be together in person, make time to talk or video chat with your loved ones. Let them know how you’re feeling and what would be helpful for you.
- Connect with other Veterans. There are many Veteran support groups and tools from VA that serve as a great way to meet others who understand what you’re going through.
- Volunteer your time. Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and to feel connected to others. There are many different volunteer opportunities available, so you can find something that interests you and that also fits your schedule.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. These things can help to improve your mood and reduce stress.
- Seek professional help if needed. If you’re struggling to cope with loneliness or other mental health issues, don’t be afraid to seek professional help from VA. The resources available can provide you with support and guidance on how to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Planning and compassion can really help
Having compassion for yourself and understanding that you are not alone with loneliness during the holidays is a great first step, but there are other steps you can take to help yourself as well:
- Plan ahead. If you know that you’ll be feeling lonely around the holidays, start planning activities and events in advance. This will give you something to look forward to and help you to stay busy.
- Be realistic. Don’t expect to feel happy and festive all the time. It’s okay to feel sad or lonely, especially if you’re missing loved ones.
- Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel your emotions, and don’t judge yourself for feeling lonely.
- Remember that you’re not alone. Many people struggle with loneliness, especially during the holidays. There are people who care about you and want to help.
Looking to Get Involved?
Whether you identify as a healthcare provider, community organization, or Veteran, there are several opportunities through the NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program and PERU to connect to resources, participate in educational training, and promote harm reduction strategies. We are actively recruiting healthcare and community partners to work with us in meeting our goals and objectives. To learn more, visit the program website at theresilientveteran.org.
Need Help? Know Someone Who Does? Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat. Both are free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.