I want to talk about the U.S withdrawal and the takeover by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Veterans from all eras are reacting, some questioning the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. It’s a particularly emotional time for post-9/11 Veterans, as well as their family members, their survivors and caregivers. And I know it has been very upsetting to staff as well, and that many of you share in those feelings of distress. VA is here for you as well as for our Veterans.
I find great comfort in knowing that you know how to take care of Veterans and how to be on the lookout for those in distress. I urge you to reach out to Veterans and colleagues and show them you care. Each of you can make a difference.
I am proud of all the great services VA has to offer. We have the Veterans Crisis Line, which is a part of our Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. We have our Vet Centers, which have been around for over 40 years, providing counseling and outreach to Veterans who need support. I am also proud of our wonderful staff—every one of you has a role out there and I thank you again for always looking out for Veterans.
One of the ways we can support Veterans in need is to ensure that we have the Veterans Crisis Line number handy. I am asking you to take out your cell phone and enter the number of the Veterans Crisis Line. This way, you will always have it with you, wherever you go. The number is 1-800-273-8255, then press 1 to get somebody on the line. Any Veteran who is in crisis and needs support can call this number.
While these are certainly trying times, no one does this better than VA. We are here for Veterans. We are here for each other. And I thank you for what you do every day.
Patrick J. Kelly, FACHE
Director, Minneapolis VA Health Care System