PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Many military men and women who served our country carry with their invisible wounds.

Those wounds are mental health issues connected to time served on the battlefront that surface on the homefront.

The mental health toll that’s taken by deployment can linger long after active duty. Advocates for veterans are working to make services more accessible to support their mental well-being.

Many veterans turn to the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center to meet their physical needs. But there’s a need met that’s just as great: treatment for PTSD, depression, grief, anger, or trauma.

“Most of them go through traumatic experiences as part of their mission, their assignments, their tour of duties. So, we have to be trauma-informed to understand the struggles they go through,” stated Arlene Martinez-Nieto, MD Chief of Psychiatry at Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center.

Despite offering what Dr. Martinez-Nieto calls a “plethora” of mental health services day in, day out, there’s a treatment obstacle for many veterans: reluctance.

“We highly encourage veterans to overcome their shame of seeking mental health or psychiatric services, a big stigma problem,” explained Martinez-Nieto.

“That’s why it’s really important for loved ones to reach out and start the conversation about mental health,” says Chris Loftis, Ph.D. National Director, VA/Dept. of Defense Mental Health Collaboration.

The Veterans Health Administration Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention has launched a national campaign called ‘Veterans Know’. It highlights an online resource called ‘Make The Connection’ and how veterans got help.

“We have veterans from all different walks of life talking about their personal struggles with transitioning out of the military with drugs and alcohol, with a whole range of issues,” explained Loftis.

Issues that can end in suicide if a vet struggling with mental health doesn’t get help. It’s why veteran Dave Ragan founded Veterans Promise in Dickson City where vets can share their struggles and receive referrals and outreach.

“We’re literally trying to find a new way to discover who we are, you know, once that uniform is taken off,” Ragan says.

A mental health battle no veteran should fight alone.

“Absolutely. We’re here for you,” stated Martinez-Nieto.

You can make a real difference in the life of a veteran struggling with mental health issues. Let them know you’re there for them and that’s it’s all right to ask for help.

Head to the ‘Make aConnection’ website for a list of available mental health resources for vets so that, as the campaign is called, ‘Veterans Know’.