Female veterans help other veterans through stressful times
It’s an alarming trend. The suicide rate for female veterans is twice as high as the rate for females who did not serve in the military. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Just grabbed my Teddy Bear and laid down,” said reservist Tanzania Johnson.
Seven years ago, Navy hospital corpsman Tanzania Johnson tried to take her own life. She survived her attempt, got help and now wants other female veterans to know they’re not alone.
“People don’t know that it’s okay to not be okay,” said Johnson.
Johnson said being a female in the military is an uphill battle.
“As a female, especially as an African-American female, I have to fight two stigmas,” she said.
A recent report from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs says the suicide rate for *female* veterans was 2.2 times higher than non-veteran women, much more than their male counterparts.
“She may be suffering in silence… and they’re thinking and believing that suicide is their way out,” said Cherissa Jackson, the Chief Medical Executive at AMVETS.
But it’s not, said Jackson. The Air Force veteran is running a hotline to help veterans heal.
Jackson says hotlines like these make a difference, but organizations also need to collaborate on ways to lower the alarming trend.
Arizona’s Republican Sen. Martha McSally, a veteran herself, says she understands.
She wants to expand veteran treatment courts and encourage veterans to lift each other up.
“Remind them of their core values and why they served, connecting back into honor and resilience,” said McSally.
She also supports non-traditional therapies like nature retreats and oxygen therapy in a hyperbaric chamber.
“It has to be a holistic approach and at the community level,” said the Senator.
Those are healing therapies Johnson welcomes.
“Support it? 100 percent yes,” Johnson said.
Johnson is writing a book to share her experiences to let other veterans know there is help out there.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.