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Sudden collapse of Afghanistan brings local veteran mental health to light

San Luis Obispo County Veterans Outreach
The Veteran’s Outreach Program provides outreach and access to mental health services for veterans, by providing rehabilitative activities and counseling services. ";

The government collapse in Afghanistan is bringing a flood of emotions for some U.S. veterans who served there. As many of us are watching images and videos from the chaos unfolding in Afghanistan, veterans who have served in that country are experiencing it differently. 

“ The men and women that served in Afghanistan see Afghanistan through a lens that the American public — they’ll never be able to see, it’s not possible because you all weren’t there," U.S. Army Veteran Morgan Boyd said. "You’d be surprised how many of us live among you that suffer from [post-traumatic stress disorder].”

There are around 17,000 Veterans who live in San Luis Obispo County. U.S. Army Veteran Morgan Boyd is one of them. 

“I led a platoon in 2009-2010 during the surge," Boyd said. "One word is.. it’s heartbreaking. Honestly, it’s heartbreaking to see what is happening to the Afghan people.”

Boyd, who currently serves as SLO County’s Veteran Services Officer, said he’s struggling mentally with what he’s seeing in the news, and knows he’s not alone. 

“The problem is that our veterans are self-isolating and they are not wanting to take the hard steps that it takes to seek help," Boyd said.

Boyd is encouraging veterans to join him in gathering at the SLO Veterans Center, or to reach out to the county’s mental health services.

Gabriel Granados with the county’s Veterans Outreach Program is reminding veterans they aren't alone.

“If you are watching the news, and it is activating anxiety or other difficult feelings, take a break from that information so that you don’t continue to overload yourself,” Grenados said. 

Granados encourages veterans, active military members and their families to call the county veterans' therapist at 805-748-2403 if they are struggling or just need someone to talk to. There is also the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.

He also encourages veterans to join in the free county events that aren’t in a clinical setting.

“All of our events are here within our county, and they are typically outdoor active events from kayaking, horseback riding, fishing," Granados said. "It’s a great opportunity to connect with other veterans or come with your own guest and enjoy some time with them and connect with the community.”

Boyd said for people out in public talking about Afghanistan and sharing their opinions, to be mindful and sensitive to those around you who may have served. 

"If you do run across a Veteran that served in Afghanistan," Boyd said, "maybe ask them about their experience before you go and proselytize to them about what you think should have happened in Afghanistan.”

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