CAMERON COUNTY, Texas (KVEO) – The alarming average number of veterans that die by suicide every day is 22. During the COVID-19 pandemic, isolating at home can make mental health issues harder for veterans.
“I was really broken inside and I needed to fix myself,” said Iraq War Veteran, Robert Cavazos.
Five years after Cavazos came home from Iraq, he almost became a statistic.
“I remember going in 2005 to my local VA, I remember walking in, looking around and walking out. I saw older veterans, veterans in wheelchairs and I thought, you know what, why am I here?” said Cavazos.
Cavazos eventually returned and successfully received help from the Veteran Affairs, but the numbers show, not all veterans can make that break through.
“I had to surround myself with the right people. Getting help and seeking treatment, lead to me coming back to school. I’ve always wanted to finish what I started. If I never would have gotten help or seek treatment, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today,” said Cavazos.
“If he’d gotten help at that time, he’d probably be with us today,” said veteran Bill Muirhead of the son he lost to suicide. He takes advantage of the services he believes could have helped.
“Now that the VA doesn’t have group meetings, we come here to share,” said Muirhead.
During the pandemic, S.T.A.V.I.A., South Texas Afghanistan Iraq Veterans Association, has provided support for veterans in many ways.
“With the VA cutting off peer groups for the veterans, we were able to see this was a need,” said STAVIA Executive and Operational Director, Leah Leggett-Martinez.
They feel their in-person, one-on-one and group therapy sessions are vital to veterans, during these times.
“We can’t just go without our therapy, without our group therapy. We need our sisters and brothers to help us get through this,” said Leggett-Martinez.
To reach S.T.A.V.I.A. email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 956-509-6355