Veteran’s Day and Native American Heritage Month

November is a busy time of the year, and during November, we celebrate Veteran’s Day on Friday, November 11th, and Native American Heritage Month. These days help to build recognition and awareness around groups that may be dealing with issues that many of us are unaware of.


In the following article, we’re going to take a closer look at both Veteran’s Day and Native American Heritage Month and the challenges mental health is posing to those from both groups.


What Is Veteran’s Day?


In 1921 an unknown American soldier from WW1 was buried in the Arlington National Ceremony. The site itself overlooks the Potomac River and Washington City. It has become a focal point for American veterans.


veteran's day in the usa

Similar ceremonies were held around the world on November 11th, at 11 am, to celebrate the end of the fighting. This became known as Armistice Day.


The term Armistice Day was changed to Veteran’s Day to honor all veterans of all wars and the first celebration of Veteran’s Day was in Alabama in 1947. In 1954, Congress passed a bill that President Eisenhower signed that officially recognized November 11th as Veteran’s Day. To honor all Americans, the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) maintains a 24/7 day and night vigil.


What Are Some of the Mental Health Issues Facing Veterans?


According to this article published in the National Library of Medicine, veterans' biggest mental health issues are PTSD and depression. ‘Some research has suggested that approximately 14% to 16% of U.S. service members deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq have PTSD or depression.’


Veteran suicide rates are currently at their highest in recorded history. Statistics put this number at almost 6,000 veterans per year. In 2016, The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published data that indicated that veteran suicide rates were 1.5 times greater than non-veterans.


If you’re a veteran and you need help with any mental health issues, you can get support 24.7 at the following website address.

Fly the American Flag – Flying the American flag on Veteran’s Day is a great way to show your support for veterans across the country.

Write A Letter to a Veteran – If you contact your local VA center, they may be able to put you in touch with a veteran so you can write a letter of thanks to them.

Donate to A Veteran Organization – There are several different charitable organizations that support American veterans. For example, you can donate to the VA Medical Centers, Wounded Warrior Project, or Homes for Our Troops, to name a few.


Check-In with a Veteran You Know – Calling, writing, or dropping in on a veteran you know is a great way to support veterans. You may think that a chat or coffee isn’t that much, but sometimes a friendly voice or ear on Veteran’s Day is just what many veterans need.


What Is Native American Heritage Month?


November is Native American History Month. It’s a month to celebrate the diverse and rich cultures, history, traditions, and contributions made by native people. It’s also an excellent opportunity to educate people about Native American history's importance.


Many resources are available on the National Congress of American Indians website.

In 1916, New York became the first state to declare an ‘American Indian Day’ in honor of the contributions made by Native Americans. Later, in 1976, Congress declared October 10-16th as ‘Native American Awareness Week.’ However, in 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed into law a resolution that designated the month of November as ‘Native American Heritage Month.


According to Mental Health America, Native Americans are reporting mental health issues at over 2.5 times the rate of other Americans. That’s approximately 800k Native Americans every year dealing with mental health issues.


Currently, there are several barriers that can prevent Native Americans from getting the mental health care they need, including:

  • Inadequate Funding

  • Rural and Isolated Locations

  • Mistrust of Government Services

  • Lack of Cultural Competence

  • Language Barriers

  • Poverty and Unemployment


Below are just some of the mental health resources available to Native Americans:

  • Indian Health ServiceIHS provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives who belong to 574 federally recognized tribes.

  • Indian Country Child Trauma Center (ICCTC) (405-271-8858) – The ICCTC is a SAMHSA-funded program established to develop training, technical assistance, program development, and resources on trauma-informed care for tribal communities. Oklahoma City-based center specializes in the treatment of Native American children that have experienced trauma and sexual abuse.

  • One Sky Center (503-970-7895) – One Sky Center provides resources and a “Find a Therapist” locator for treating mental health and substance use disorder within Native American communities.

  • StrongHearts Native Helpline (844-762-8483) – StrongHearts Native Helpline is a domestic violence and dating violence helpline for American Indians and Alaska Natives, offering culturally appropriate support daily from 7 am to 10 pm CT via phone and online chat. StrongHearts Native Helpline’s one-on-one chat sessions with advocates can be accessed by clicking on the “Chat Now” icon at strongheartshelpline.org.


3 Physicians Who Helped Shape Modern Medicine and Native American Communities


1. Dr. Mathuram Santosham

Dr. Mathuram Santosham is a John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health professor. He has worked extensively on childhood vaccines and oral rehydration therapy. He also founded and directed the Center for American Indian Health. The center works in partnership with tribal communities to improve the health status, independence, and health leadership among Native populations.


2. Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail

Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail was dubbed the ‘Grandmother of American Indian Nurses’ and was one of the first Native American nurses in the United States. She worked extensively with the Crow people but also traveled the United States as a public health consultant for reservations. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy awarded her the President’s Award for Outstanding Nursing.



3. Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first Native American woman to become a physician in the United States. Before her death in 1913, Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte opened a hospital on the Omaha Reservation, which was her birthplace. She worked tirelessly to provide her community with adequate healthcare and also as an activist for Native Americans.




Mental Health Awareness


Hopefully, now you should have a much clearer idea about Veteran’s Day and Native American Heritage Month and all about the mental health challenges facing those affected by both groups.


Over the last decade, mental health in the workplace and home environment has become a significant focus for businesses and individuals. As a community, we’re now much more aware of what mental health issues are and how they can affect people.


If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health issues, it’s never too late to reach out and ask for help. You should never feel like you’re alone or your situation is helpless. There is always someone willing to listen, offer advice and support, and assist you if you’re struggling with any mental health issues.


Note: All personal images were sourced from LinkedIn and Google. Laxxon Medical does not own the rights to any of the images that have been used in this article. If you have any concerns, please get in touch with us.

 

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