State Rep. Kenneth Paschal (R-Pelham) is asking Alabamians to use the Veterans Day weekend as a reminder to check on their veteran friends and family. He also reminded veterans in the state about the multiple resources available.

Paschal, a veteran of the U.S. Army, also serves on the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. He said suicide is the second leading cause of death of veterans under the age of 45.

“Active members of the military, and especially those who serve in combat, carry a set of stresses that is unique, and those stresses remain with them and can even intensify once they end their service,” Pascal said. “Veterans Day offers a perfect opportunity to say ‘thank you for your service’ while also offering a helping hand, a strong shoulder, and a compassionate heart to those who once wore a uniform and find themselves struggling."

The State of Alabama has set up the 988 service, a crisis line for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis.

“If you know a veteran who needs help, share three simple numbers that can save their life - 988 - which is the hotline for suicide prevention counseling, mental crisis help, and substance abuse services,” Paschal said. “There is no better way to express appreciation to those who stood on the front lines of freedom than guiding them on the path toward help.”

A challenge for many veterans is transitioning from military life to civilian life. It is difficult to go from a combat mindset to a successful career back home. Alabama Veteran helps veterans transition, and founder Alan Cook has started Dovetail Landing in Lincoln. This facility accepts veterans and their families to help them get through the transition period.

“This is our answer to a one-stop-shop for everything that we do,” said Cook. “We want to provide a facility to help veterans transition out. Now, veterans won’t have to go anywhere and won’t have to do it alone. Then the reverse boot camp is a 90-day program.”

Paschal told 1819 News he fully supports Alabama Veteran and what the non-profit is doing.

"That is a great program and a great opportunity to get the public sector involved," Paschal said. "We have a great Department of Veterans Affairs but it is imperative that we approach this issue at multiple levels, through the Department of Veterans Affairs along with the public sector. This is a great addition to help out veterans as they try to transition into society."

The VA has responded to the suicide crisis by allowing veterans to seek mental health care at both military and private-sector health facilities. A new policy covers 100% of emergency visits.

Paschal sponsored a House resolution officially recognizing Veterans Day in Alabama.

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