Friday, January 13, 2017

TOP STORY >> VFW Auxiliary leader visits

Leader staff writer

VFW Auxiliary national president Colette Bishop spoke about veterans’ mental health during her stop at the Jacksonville VFW Post 4548 on Tuesday.

The VFW Auxiliary is focusing on veterans mental health, including post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and suicide.

“They say there are 20 veterans a day that commit suicide. That is 20 too many for me. I’m not a counselor, but we can help our veterans many different ways. We can provide a place and a post home for them to have a group meeting. Let them facilitate the meeting. What do they want to talk about? What do they need to talk about? If they get to a point that (suicide) is what they have to do, we can direct them to the right place to get fixed,” Bishop said.

She thinks many veterans have come home from the war with ailments and families did not see the signs and recognize what it was. Many veterans just did not talk about the war.

Bishop asked the VFW Auxiliary members to educate the community on veterans mental-health issues and how to help. There are five things to look for in a person that may have emotional pain and might need help: Personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-care and hopelessness.

“I believe we can make a difference,” she said.

VFW Auxiliary is looking for new members. It was known for years as the VFW Ladies Auxiliary. Last year the organization dropped ladies from the name.

“There is no reason ladies can be members and men can’t. That’s not fair. If we don’t keep growing, we are going to stop being an organization,” Bishop said.

She said last year 1,400 men became members.

Bishop is from Muscatine, Iowa. She is the third generation in her family to serve as auxiliary and district president. When she was growing up her parents were leaders in their local VFW Post.

“I think this is a family organization, and we need to get back to being one. We are the only ones that are going to teach our children Americanism, patriotism and about the wars. If we don’t, they aren’t going to learn it because they don’t teach it in schools anymore,” Bishop said.