‘Combat the Silence’ campaign launching PSAs to fight veteran suicide, advocating for mental health

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A new campaign to combat the issue of mental health and suicide in veterans is launching Monday, on Memorial Day.

Blue Star Families is partnering with two Emmy-award military combat veterans to release suicide prevention public service announcements this Memorial Day.

Blue Star Families empowers families to thrive as they serve by connecting them with neighbors in the military community.

It’s part of the national Combat the Silence campaign, an initiative funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program.

The PSAs illustrate the critical role of intervention during a mental health crisis, and each PSA encourages families to register for Blue Star Support Circles, otherwise known as BSSC. The BSSC is the groundbreaking proactive virtual cohorts that train military families, veterans, peers, and service members to identify and intervene during mental health crises.

Campaign lead Kali Hoffman says this initiative is special due to its intentionality of training the whole family.

“It’s about the family members and the peers, and the friends who are supporting our veterans and everyone in the military community because we know that it’s very difficult for veterans to open up and break out of that shell to tell us that something is going on mentally and that they need help,” says Hoffman. “So, the great thing about this campaign is that we actually train up their support network so that they’re able to identify the mental health crisis before they arise of when they arise or when they’re arising, and how to safely intervene.”

Approximately 135 people are affected by each suicide in the military community, and 20% of active-duty family respondents experienced suicidal thoughts or attempts in the past year.

Nearly 1/4 of active-duty family respondents expressed a desire to receive mental health care but currently do not. The PSAs will roll out in batches.

The first PSA will air strategically on Memorial Day, today — when people honor and mourn the U.S. Military personnel who died while serving in the United States armed forces.

The second PSA will air in September during suicide prevention month, and the third in November to coincide with Veterans Day.