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Local VA encourages vets to seek support returning from Afghanistan

Posted at 10:25 AM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 10:26:26-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — As more than 2,000 troops work their way home from overseas, veterans we've spoken with say it's critical for their comrades to reach out for help from the VA when needed, especially when it comes to mental health.

Retired Captain Chester Davis served in both Vietnam and Afghanistan and now lives in Quincy. He says the move to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is a process that's happening too quickly.

"It reminds me of when we come out of Southeast Asia, Vietnam, how we left the peoples there," said retired veteran Captain Chester Davis.

For those readjusting to life in the states, instead of bottling in emotions, he recommends turning to loved ones or even professionals.

"Be able to talk about things. Not only to family, but to friends, as well as [the] VA hospital," said Davis.

George Shorter works with the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs as the associate chief of staff for mental health in north Florida and South Georgia.

"We'd like the veterans to know right now that their service has been appreciated," Shorter says.

He encourages vets returning from Afghanistan to reach out to their expertise if they feel like they may be experiencing post-traumatic stress.

"Many many years ago, VA piloted all of the current ... we're the developers of all the current psychotherapies for PTSD," said Shorter.

They also offer general mental health and substance use disorder services, all while working to keep veterans from experiencing long hospital stays.

"We endeavor to make sure that veterans are safe in the community and are supported," Shorter says.

Vets who may be interested in their services can call their 24-hour national support hotline at 1-800-273-8255, option 1, or text the crisis line at 838255.