While many face-to-face services have been halted during the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health agencies are now facing new challenges to reach veterans who need their help.
Mike Crum, a former Marine from Wisconsin and volunteer with the Center for Suicide Awareness, said being stuck at home can create new problems for people.
"How am I going to get my pills, how am I going to get my medication?" Crum said. "If I need to go to the store, do I make that risk? Do I need to wear a mask?"
Crum says those new issues, along with increased isolation can make it tough to get to veterans who need help.
"Veterans naturally isolate, so when we talk about suicide it's one of those things where we isolate we don't want to be a part of the public or we feel like a burden to other people," he said.
Donald Placidi, Division of Veterans Benefits Administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, says many of the in-person services have been put on hold, and moved to over the phone sessions.
"Veterans typically don't come forward, often, especially when they're suffering from mental health or opioid addiction or other substance abuses that they may be encountering," Placidi said.
He's trying to get the word out that the services have not gone away, but have just moved to a different platform.
"Throughout the Milwaukee area we're just continuing to be that resource, even in these times where we can't physically be out there and take them to the services that we would normally have in the past," he said.
Important services that may have been a challenge for people even before the pandemic.
"I know I'm having maybe these thoughts of suicide or depression or anxiety, but where do I reach out for help?" Crum said. "And that can be difficult for a lot of veterans just to ask for help or to be OK with asking for help."
Veterans Crisis Line:
1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
The Center for Suicide Prevention:
Mental Health America of Wisconsin:
Warmline support with Veteran Peer Support Specialists, call 262-336-9540
Milwaukee VA Medical Center