October 4 through October 10 is national Mental Illness Awareness Week. In Cumberland County, there is a special effort to help veterans who are suffering.
There are more than 20,000 veterans in Cumberland County. No one knows how many of them are battling mental illness, but an alarming increase in veteran suicides has mental health experts fighting back.
“Part of being healthy mentally is being aware of being ill. If you have insight into an illness, just like any illness, then you can have insight how to get better from that illness,” said Annie Strite, senior human services manager at Cumberland-Perry Mental Health.
Strite and other local leaders want veterans to know that help is out there.
“I’m not aware of any of my clients that have been turned down seeking assistance,” said Neal Delisanti, director of Cumberland County Veterans’ Affairs. “The difficulty is getting the individual to recognize that they have a situation that they may be able to seek help with.”
“Especially when it comes to mental health, it’s not a joke. It’s something that I put off and I wish I would’ve done it sooner. But now that I’ve gone through counseling and I sought out those resources I can’t tell you how happy I am,” said Mike Liguori, a Marine veteran who served two tours in Iraq.
In his book “The Sandbox Stories of Human Spirit and War,” Liguori talks about a personal war during his transition to civilian life.
“Life has those ups and downs, it has those shortcomings, but it also has those times for success. The real key to being successful, the real key to having a great life after the services is to reach out for those resources that are there,” Liguori said.
Liguori will speak at the First United Church of Christ, at 30 N. Pitt Street in Carlisle, Tuesday at 7 p.m. The public is invited and everyone who attends will receive a free copy of Liguori’s book.
If you or someone you know needs help, there are several places to look. Start by contacting your health insurance provider. You can also call Cumberland-Perry MH.IDD at (717) 240-6320. A third option is the Cumberland County Veterans’ Affairs office at (717) 240-6178.