With Veterans Day tomorrow, Friday, November 11th, many will celebrate by thanking Veterans for their service, but the holiday is about more than just honoring our Veterans, it's about acknowledging the challenges they face.

On average, 22 Veterans take their life each day here in the United States. Louisiana has one of the highest rates of Veteran suicide in the country.

Robert Harris, director of Service to Armed Forces and Veterans for the Louisiana Red Cross served for 21 years and when he joined the Red Cross in 2014, he began working with the Louisiana National Guard to help address the increasing instances of Veteran suicide in Louisiana.

Harris says, “Military life is very difficult. Service members return home with unique issues as a result of their deployment. The Red Cross helps them be more functional in their day-to-day lives by identifying and addressing these complications.”

One of the ways the Red Cross assists Veterans and their families is through their Reconnection Workshops. These workshops are free and available to anyone affected by military deployment and are led by licensed mental health professionals.

Ava Carter, the Louisiana Red Cross program manager at Fort Polk says, "Red Cross Reconnection Workshops provide a safe space for veterans and service members to not only discuss how they are feeling, but to see that others in their position feel the same way. Being in a deployed environment removes you from your normal support, making even small things that would otherwise roll off your back seem insurmountable – and this stress can carry over after returning home. Reconnection workshops help individuals pick apart the ways they respond to stressors in an effort to find healthy coping mechanisms.”

The demand for this program was much higher than anticipated at it's inception in 2014 and Harris plans to serve 1,250 by the end of the first quarter of our current fiscal year. The program continues to grow and they are in need of volunteers as well as donations.


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