MENTAL HEALTH

VA of Salt Lake City increasing outreach to vets in the wake of Afghanistan attack

Aug 26, 2021, 7:25 PM | Updated: 7:32 pm
(The George E. Whalen Veterans Medical Center in Salt Lake City.  Deseret News, file photo)...
(The George E. Whalen Veterans Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Deseret News, file photo)
(The George E. Whalen Veterans Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Deseret News, file photo)

SALT LAKE CITY – Veterans advocates say the deadly attack in Afghanistan could trigger a lot of mental health issues for vets across Utah. 

Officials with the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System say they’re stepping up their outreach efforts. They want veterans to know they can reach out for counseling if they need it.

Patient morale is low

Hospital officials tell KSL the morale among the patients getting care at the VA of Salt Lake City is low.  Spokesperson Jill Atwood says vets are trying to console each other while they watch the situation unfold in Afghanistan.  She says patients can’t pull themselves away from their TVs.

Atwood said, “If you were to walk around our health care system right now, you would see veterans gathered around the television watching breaking news.”

Hospital administrators haven’t had the time to tabulate how many calls they’re getting for mental healthcare services.

Getting more calls

However, Atwood has spoken with their on-site counselors and psychiatrists. She says, anecdotally, they have been seeing more calls for counseling even before the attack happened.  Atwood says the deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan have been top-of-mind for veterans ever since the Taliban took over.

“Obviously, something like this is extremely triggering,” Atwood said.  “A lot of folks have spent a lot of time over there and a lot of sacrifices have happened.  This is disturbing.”

She says they have a full staff of doctors and counselors on hand to help vets dealing with suicidal thoughts. However, she’s hoping the public can help.  Atwood is asking everyone to reach out to their veteran friends to see if they need care.

Thinking of the Afghan military

Former VA of Utah Director Terry Schow says veterans aren’t just thinking about their fellow soldiers who were killed or injured in the attack. They are also thinking about the members of the Afghan military, who served with US troops.  Schow says it’s frustrating to hear anyone claim that the Afghan forces simply gave up their arms and walked away.

“Sixty thousand Afghans lost their lives over the past 20 years fighting to defend their country, and they were under insurmountable odds,” Schow said.

He believes many veteran groups and military strategists tried to warn the Biden administration about potential problems if the withdrawal wasn’t handled correctly. And there were lessons that should have been learned from previous conflicts.  Additionally, Schow is especially disappointed with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

“Both have served in the Middle East and, certainly, should have some understanding of what’s going on there, but it appears as though they have not made mentions to those prior lessons,” he said.

Read more:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Mental Health

The Utah House has advanced the bill that bans transgender-related surgeries on minors and pauses t...
Aimee Cobabe

Equality Utah supports bill clarifying rules for therapists when it comes to conversion therapy for minors

Equality Utah is supporting a bill adjusting rules for therapists when it comes to conversion therapy for minors.
2 days ago
A woman wearing white sitting in front of a light box...
Michelle Lee

Winter blues: light therapy and lifestyle changes can help

SALT LAKE CITY – With the chilly weather and the shorter days, many people are prone to experience the winter blues. In the latest Let’s Get Moving with Maria podcast episode, host Maria Shilaos spoke with Dr. Jason Hunziker from the Huntsman Mental Health Institute about ways people can overcome the winter blues. Seasonal depression […]
3 days ago
A bill on transgender healthcare — banning transgender-related surgeries and puberty blockers for...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV and Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio

Utah Senate approves changes to transgender care bill, passes on to Gov. Cox

SB16 bans gender-confirming surgeries for minors and also places a moratorium on puberty blockers for minors.
12 days ago
a row of guns are pictured...
Mark Jones

KSL at Night: How do we solve gun violence?

KSL at Night hosts Taylor Morgan and Maura Carabello speak with Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council about gun violence.
15 days ago
Three bills dealing with transgender youth in Utah have easily passed through the Utah Senate....
Simone Seikaly

Transgender youth-related bills pass Senate, advance to Utah House

Three bills that dealing with transgender-related issues have been approved by the Utah Senate and now move to the Utah House for consideration.
19 days ago
social media...
Curt Gresseth

Utah congressman discusses his bill to ban US teens under 16 from using social media

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, discusses his new bill that would ban American kids younger than 16 from using social media platforms.
20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

This article about skijoring is sponsored by the Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau. Participate in Skijoring the Bear on February 20th, 2023.  What is skijoring? Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and […]
Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
VA of Salt Lake City increasing outreach to vets in the wake of Afghanistan attack