Nearly 40 percent of veterans who have served in Iraq are diagnosed with a mental health issue like depression or post-traumatic stress.
Few receive adequate treatment or even treatment at all. But a dedicated, local group is trying to make sure a veteran's trip home doesn't leave them wishing they were still deployed at war.
Veterans who may be suffering the lingering affects of loss and war often find themselves emotionally squeezed back at home.
They don't want to show weakness by opening up to fellow soldiers, but they don't feel comfortable talking to people who simply don't understand their experience.
The Arizona National Guard said that's why they hosted a faith-based summit at Papago Park Military Reservation, hoping to train a large segment of the population on how to spot and help veterans in distress.
"Life is a constant change, and how do we deal and cope with those changes is very important," said Col. Elmon Krupnik at the military summit. "How do we deal with crisis situations as they come upon us and a lot of times without warning, how do we respond to that?"
Arizona is one of five states selected in a national initiative called "Partners in Care." It allows the national guard to reach out to the faith-based community just as they have previously with first responders, training 1,000 paramedics on the unique aspects of veterans in crisis.
"It's not just necessarily deployment, it's just that service members, veterans and their families have needs and how to access those needs and those resources," Krupnik said.
Many veterans said the simple aspect of people showing they care makes them open up more, and Krupnik said there has been a steady increase in service members asking for help before things spiral out of control.
Krupnik said expanding this type of awareness in the broader community can only make things easier.
"We're hoping that will help us reach out to the community with the needs that our service members and their families have when they have needs, whether it be physical needs, emotional needs or financial needs."
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