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While military service often fosters resilience in individuals and families, some service members may experience mental health or substance use challenges.



  • 30 percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health condition requiring treatment – approximately 730,000 men and women, with many experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression.
  • Less than 50 percent of returning veterans in need receive any mental health treatment.
  • The Veterans Administration reports that approximately 22 veterans die by suicide every day.
  • Lengths of deployments are associated with more emotional difficulties among military children and more mental health problems among U.S. Army wives.


We all can play a part in changing these statistics. Reach out to veterans who suffer in silence or who may be reluctant to seek help. You can let veterans in need know that support is available in their community.


Mental Health First Aid is a training program — like regular First Aid or CPR — that teaches people skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to recognize and respond to the warning signs of specific illnesses.


Mental Health First Aid for Veterans, Service Members and their Families builds upon the effectiveness of the standard Mental Health First Aid curriculum by focusing on the unique experiences and needs of the military, veteran and family population, including:

  • A discussion of military culture and its relevance to mental health.
  • A discussion of specific risk factors faced by many service members and their families such as trauma (both mental and physical), stress, and separation.
  • Applying an action plan in a number of scenarios relevant for service members, their families and those that support them.
  • A review of resources for service members, their families and those who support them

Learn more at

Read about how programs like Mental Health First Aid for Veterans helped U.S. Army Specialist Tousha Barnes through her struggle with PTSD in a special insert in USA Today’s weekend edition.

Feel free to share the graphic on your social media platforms.

Submit Your Resources and Stories for the Theater of War Mobile App: Make your organization’s resources more accessible to service members, veterans and their families, and help each service member overcome the hidden wounds of war through sharing stories of their struggles and resiliency.

Learn more at


Community Discussions

The National Council is pleased to be partners with Outside the Wirethe Massachusetts General Hospital Academy, and Points of Light, to present the Theater of War: Soldiers & Citizens Tour to National Guard and Reserve units and their communities across the United States. Each stop of the tour includes dramatic readings of Sophocles’ Ajax — an ancient Greek tragedy about the suicide of a great, respected warrior — to diverse military and civilian audiences to engage communities in powerful town hall discussions about the visible and invisible wounds of war. The presentations are intended to foster understanding and compassion, while mobilizing citizens and resources to help improve the lives of service members, veterans, their families, and people in their communities.



Increasingly, civilian practitioners are treating returning Veterans and their families. Unfortunately, few clinicians understand the military—a culture of its own—and therefore do not understand how to provide culturally sensitive and clinically competent services to Veterans and their families.

That’s why the National Council for Behavioral Health partners with the U.S. Department of Defense Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) and Relias Learning to offer Serving Our Veterans: Behavioral Health Certificate.


Courses include:

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD in Veterans and Military Personnel
  • Epidemiology of PTSD in Military Personnel and Veterans
  • Fundamentals of Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Meeting the Behavioral Health Needs of Returning Veterans
  • Military Cultural Sensitivity
  • PTSD Then and Now, There and Here
  • The Impact of Deployment and Combat Stress on Families and Children



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