SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — When it comes to mental health, it can be difficult for veterans who are struggling to seek help, but local advocates are working to change that in Savannah.
For many veterans, returning home after serving is a difficult transition. It can take a toll on their mental health and even cost them their lives.
“It wasn’t until my marriage to Garrett, who was serving as a Ranger at 175, that I really started saying that PTSD and mental illness could be something very different for different people,” Miranda Briggs said.
Briggs is a mental health advocate and the founder of The Fight The War Within Foundation, an organization that helps connect service members with mental health resources. For Briggs it’s more than just work, it’s personal. Her husband Garrett served in the military for five years, many of those in Savannah.
“In 2018, two weeks after the birth of our daughter, Garrett lost his internal war and it forever changed our life,” Briggs said.
Briggs says, he’s not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in 2020, more than 6,000 veterans lost their lives to suicide.
“It was earth-shattering because you don’t ever look at someone and really think is that a thought that they could ever have in their mind, and a lot of people ask ‘did you see it coming’ and it still boggles me,” Briggs said.
That’s what inspired her to speak out and help others going through the same thing.
“We made the decision to start the non-profit in his memory and our mission is to connect people of all walks to mental health resources,” Briggs said.
One of those resources is the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic in Hinesville.
“If somebody comes to us and they’re in crisis and they have a need, we’re going to see them that same day because it’s not easy to take that first step to ask for help and we don’t want any barriers to that,” Belinda Sharp said.
Sharp is the director of the clinic and she says one of the most important things you can do is talk to a loved one if you think they’re struggling.
“Having those conversations, realizing mental health is health and reducing the stigma that comes with getting that treatment, it’s okay to not be okay sometimes is going to be the best way to overcome those barriers,” Sharp said.
Removing barriers and speaking up, advocates like Briggs say this can save someone’s life.
“You can be the difference and the voice that they truly know they care about and follow up for help,” Briggs said.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of self-harm, you can call the National Suicide Hotline at 9-8-8.