AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - They protect and serve our country and are admired by millions, but many don't realize the struggle veterans go through daily.
The Amarillo Veteran Affairs Health Care System hosted a mental health summit to educate the community and improve its mental health services.
Officials say veterans who suffer from mental health or suicidal urges often don't talk about it, which is why suicide prevention and aid were key focus points during the summit.
"The 22 Pushup Challenge" is the latest social media trend raising awareness for the 22 veterans who take their own lives daily.
A suicide prevention coordinator says that number has gone down to 20 veteran suicides a day now.
"Education, having more services, and the efforts to elevate the stigma associated with talking about suicide is helping to reach more people,"Kristell Brinkmann, a suicide prevention coordinator said. "These efforts are making it easier for vets to come in and say 'hey I am having a hard time.'"
Brinkmann adds this event is a great opportunity for veterans and the community to learn about the current and potential services the VA can offer.
"Sometimes even veterans themselves are not sure of all the resources that are available," Brinkmann said. "They need to know not only what the VA offers for mental health for their primarily care, but also from other veterans organizations of the community that we work hand in hand with."
The VA offers a suicide prevention program with on site mental health professionals. Another service that sets the VA apart is a Same Day Access program.
"Yesterday, we had 16 veterans come in without an appointment and we saw them all and took care of all of their mental health needs and treatments," VA Chief Michael Lambert said.
According to Lambert, the suicide prevention tools have had a positive impact on our VA.
He hopes this summit will help those in our community take advantage of what all the VA has to offer.
If you are a veteran in need of help you can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.