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September is Suicide Prevention Month

What is the Don’t Wait. Reach Out Campaign?

September is Suicide Prevention Month and the VA is reminding Veterans everywhere that suicide is preventable and there is hope. In 2021, the Ad Council and the Department of Veterans Affairs partnered to create the “Don’t Wait. Reach Out.” national campaign. It encourages struggling Veterans to seek help for their life challenges before they reach a crisis point. The campaign is part of the VA’s 10 year strategy to prevent Veteran suicide through a comprehensive, public health approach designed to support Veterans across a wide range of life challenges, before these problems become too overwhelming.

Why is it important to encourage Veterans to reach out before their life challenges become overwhelming?

Suicide is preventable. According to the 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, the suicide rate among Veterans is 52% higher than non-Veteran adults in the U.S. Although Veterans are trained to endure challenging situations, the crippling effects of stigma make it difficult for Veterans to reach out for help. For Veterans with mental health issues, the social stigma and discrimination they experience can make their problems worse, making it harder to recover. It may cause the Veteran to avoid getting the help they need because of the fear of being stigmatized.

What can I do to help prevent Veteran suicide?

  • Learn the facts about mental illness and share them with family, friends, work colleagues and classmates.
  • Get to know Veterans with personal experiences of mental illness so you learn to see them for who they are rather than their illness.
  • Do not judge, label or discriminate when you meet Veterans with mental illness.
  • Treat all Veterans with respect and dignity.
  • Everyone can be a part of the solution by checking in with Veterans who may be going through a rough time and encouraging them to reach out if they need help.

What resources are available?

1)At you will find social media content on suicide prevention.

2)Visit for more information on how to communicate about suicide.

3)Call. If you or someone you know is having thoughts about suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free confidential support available 24hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 988 then press 1

4)Text 838255 for free confidential support from the Veterans Crisis Line.

5)Chat online at



Q: How will a toxic exposure screening help Veterans?

A: Every enrolled Veteran will receive an initial toxic exposure screening and a follow-up screening every five years. Veterans who are not enrolled, but who are eligible to enroll, will have an opportunity to enroll and receive the screening. Veterans will be asked questions about potential exposure to an open burn pit or other hazards and symptoms commonly associated with military environmental exposure. These questions will help the VA health care providers individualize health care services and improve health outcomes and patient exposure. This will also help the VA identify other potential risks for Veterans and inform them of future policy decisions.

Q: What does toxic exposure include?

A: There are 5 types of possible exposures including:

  1. AIR POLLUTANTS: Burn pits, oil well fires, sulfur fires, sand, dust and particulates.
  2. CHEMICALS: Agent Orange, other herbicides, burn pits, Camp Lejeune water supplies, pesticides, depleted uranium, chromium, and industrial solvents.
  3. RADIATION: Nuclear weapons testing, x-rays, and depleted uranium.
  4. WARFARE AGENTS: Chemical warfare agents, nerve agents, mustard gas, herbicide tests, and storage of these agents.
  5. OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS: Asbestos, lead, fuels, industrial solvents, radiation, vibration, noise, special paint on military vehicles, some coolants, and insulating fluids.

Q: What is the Burn Pit Registry?

A: The VA Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry aims to help the VA better understand potential health effects of exposure and proactively identify any health concerns that Veterans can discuss with their health car providers for follow-up care.  Veterans deployed to Southwest Asia or Egypt after August 2nd 1990 or Afghanistan, Djibouti, Syria, or Uzbekistan on or after September 11, 2001, are eligible to participate in the Burn Pit Registry. Participation is voluntary and . exposure to specific airborne hazards or having related health concerns is not required to participate in the registry. Veterans can register online at:

Q: How is health care expanding to help Veterans get the VA health care that they need?

A: Health Care Eligibility is expanding to include 3 categories of Veterans who may not have been eligible before.

  1. CATEGORY 1: Veterans who participated in a toxic exposure risk activity (as defined by law) while serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.
  2. CATEGORY 2: Veterans who were assigned to a duty station in (including the air space above) certain locations during specific periods of time:
    1. On or after August 2, 1990, in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, or the United Arab Emirates.
    2. On or after September 11, 2001, in: Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Uzbekistan, or any other country determined relevant by the VA.
  3. CATEGORY 3: Veterans who deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Operation Inherent Resolve, or Resolute Support Mission.

Q: How can a Veteran apply for this expanded VA health care?

A:There are 4 ways to apply for VA health care.

  1. Call the toll-free hotline at 877-222-8387 M-F 8:00am-8:00pm EST
  2. Apply Online at:
  3. Bring a completed, signed VA Form 10-10EZ to the Fargo VA Medical Center
  4. Make an appointment at the Traill County Veterans Service Office 701-430-7059.