Today we honor our veterans. We acknowledge and appreciate all that the courageous women and men who serve and have served in our military have done for us. These fine Americans sacrifice much to serve and protect our country. This often comes at a harrowing cost. Families are forced to live thousands of miles apart. And the stresses of war and multiple deployments wreak havoc on the mental health of our heroes. In Oklahoma, Veterans make up 11.5% of our population. That equals 419,630 brave women and men who have put their lives on the line for us, and as a result have a higher rates of homelessness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and suicide than the average citizen. Nationally, it is estimated that 18 veterans die by suicide each day.

Here’s where you can help. If you are close to a veteran, it is important to reach out for help if you notice him or her struggling. Family & Children’s Services has programs that can help you and the veteran you know. One such program is COPES. COPES, or Community Outreach Psychiatric Emergency Services, is a telephone and mobile crisis service that responds around the clock to children and adults experiencing a severe emotional or behavioral disturbance or psychiatric emergency. To reach COPES, call 918-744-4800.

Together, we can make a difference. Today, when you encounter a veteran take the time to stop and say thank you. That few seconds of your day will mean the world to that person. Thank you, veterans!