WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday a list of resources for veterans who may be feeling emotional distress or reminded of their own deployment experiences, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"I know that many of you, like me, have been deeply affected by the war in Ukraine," Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said in a press release. "My heart goes out to the Ukrainian people as they defend themselves from this unprovoked attack, and to everyone impacted by this terrible war. Please know that we at VA are here for you during this difficult time."
McDonough noted the government agency is "standing by and ready to help — today and every day."
Resources for vets
For veterans with prolonged distress or the inability to function, the VA suggests seeking help.
According to the agency, there are professionals available who can help vets with the most common responses, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, moral injury and complicated grief.
A destroyed building after a Russian missile attack in the town of Vasylkiv, near Kyiv, on February 27, 2022. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP) (Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Every VA facility also has mental health specialists available. You can find a local provider here.
If you feel like you might hurt yourself or someone else, reach out now to the Veterans Crisis Line, online chat and text-messaging service, which are free to all veterans, even if you are not enrolled in VA health care. Confidential support is available 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1.
Veterans can also talk about their reactions in community-based VA Vet Centers, where over 70% of the staff are veterans themselves. You can call 1-800-WAR-VETS or find one near you.
In addition, you can access online resources designed to connect veterans, their family members and friends, and other supporters with information, resources and solutions to issues affecting their lives. Go to MakeTheConnection.net to learn more.
Coping strategies for vets
The VA said feeling distress is a normal reaction to negative events, especially ones that feel personal. According to the agency, it can be helpful to let yourself experience those feelings rather than try to avoid them.
Often these feelings will naturally run their course, but if they continue without easing up or if you feel overwhelmed by them, the VA said the suggestions below can be helpful.
- Engage in positive, healthy activities that are rewarding, meaningful or enjoyable, even if you don’t feel like it, as they can make you feel better.
- Stay connected by spending time with people who give you a sense of security, calm or happiness, or those who best understand what you are going through.
- Practice good self-care by engaging in activities such as listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling or reading inspirational text.
- Stick to your routines and follow a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work and do other day-to-day activities.
- Limit media exposure especially if it’s increasing your distress.
- Try PTSD Coach Online, which is a series of online videos that will guide you through 17 tools to help you manage stress.
Give back to veterans
Another way to find solace may be through engaging with your community by giving back to veterans, the organization continued.
"You are our country’s greatest civic assets," the VA wrote. "Many of our veterans and veteran serving organizations are already giving back as a means to support their communities, reduce feelings of helplessness, and improve their mental health by serving as a bridge to the community with volunteer service. Get involved!"
- Volunteers of America.
- WWP Volunteer to Help Veterans.
- Pat Tillman Foundation.
- The Mission Continues.
- Home – Team RWB.
- Team Rubicon | Built To Serve.
- Welcome to Blue Star Families.
- The Elizabeth Dole Foundation.
- Home – Bob Woodruff Foundation.
- How To Volunteer | American Red Cross.
- Sign Up to Volunteer with TAPS.
- Operation Gratitude – Thanking All Who Serve.
- Challenge America – Leading Resource for Veterans and Their Families.
- International Rescue Committee (IRC).
- How to Help Refugees | Get Involved Today | World Relief.
- Health and Human Services – Administration for Children and Families (hhs.gov).
- Health and Human Services – Resettlement Agencies Listing.
- CARE – Fighting Global Poverty and World Hunger.
Veteran Service Organizations:
- The American Legion.
- Disabled American Veterans Charity (DAV).
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
- Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).
- Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
- Vietnam Veterans of America.
"We had a group of people that were on the ground we had identified that wanted to get out, especially if things went sideways," James Judge, a spokesperson for the coalition of civilians and veterans known as Project Dynamo, told Fox News Digital on Thursday.
About two dozen American citizens and lawful permanent residents were on the first Project Dynamo bus out of the city and the group was already planning more evacuations.
This story was reported from Los Angeles. FOX News contributed.