KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Health Department released a report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs revealing that veterans account for 15 percent of all suicides in Tennessee.
A survey was conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to find out the state of veterans’ mental health throughout the nation. The report found that many veterans are struggling to adjust to civilian life, especially post-9/11 veterans or those who experienced combat.
In 2020, the suicide rate of Tennessee veterans was 39.9 per 100,000. The suicide rate in the Veteran Affairs Southern Region was 31.9.
Knox County veterans reported fewer days of poor mental health in the past month (4 days) compared to non-veterans (5.8 days) in 2018. Knox County is home to almost 29,000 military veterans which means they are 7.7 percent of the county population.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, three primary mental health concerns that people who serve in the military experience are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and traumatic brain injury.
In the report, about 11-20 percent of U.S. veterans experience PTSD compared to 4 percent of the general population. PTSD affects at least 25 percent of veterans with life-threatening war zone experience. 9 percent of all appointments in the outpatient military health network are related to depression.
27 percent of veterans overall say that re-entry into civilian life was difficult, according to the report. 44 percent of veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001 report difficulty transitioning back to civilian life.
There are available resources for veterans in need of mental health services. There is TN Crisis Line at 855-274-7471. The Veteran’s Crisis Line, which can be accessed by dialing 988 and then pressing one. Coaching Into Care, another telephone-based support service, can be reached at 888-923-7458.
The other resources include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, NAMI Homefront and William C. Tallent Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic.
“Veterans and service members have unique experiences which are important to acknowledge when considering mental health,” said Dr. Corinne Tandy, division director of epidemiology at KCHD. “This report takes a look at the primary mental health concerns facing veterans and provides a list of resources for those in need of services.”