**The Department of Veteran's Affairs says close to 17 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States.

And VA hospital's like the one in Erie are here to help buck the trend.

Assistant Chief of Behavioral Health at the Erie VA, Jeff Rose says the hospital offers one on one clinicians to help a veteran address any feelings of depression or suicide.

When a local veteran calls the veteran’s crisis line, a report is sent to the Erie VA, and they usually try to follow up with the veteran.


"That transition is very difficult, it's a very hard time when they go from the military culture to the civilian culture." Rose said

While the VA lends their hands out to a struggling veteran, this effort can't be done alone. As friends and family members could be the first line of support, on their way to treatment, and it starts with being open to conversation.

Denise Kolivoski of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Erie County says a mental illness should be treated like a physical injury. And loved ones should urge the person to seek treatment just as they would with a regular doctor.


"We really need folks to believe recovery is possible." Kolivoski said

The conversation may be uncomfortable, but Kolivoski and Rose both agree it could be life-saving.


 "Sometimes people are just waiting to be asked because they don't want to be the first to say it. But once they're asked, the floodgates are open." Rose said

Contacts:

Erie Behavioral Health Clinic: 814-860-2038

Veteran Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8555 (press 1)

Text line: 838255

 **16.8 veterans commit suicide daily in the United States, per a Department of Veterans Affairs report.

*Legislation signed by President Trump earlier this year gave fresh veterans instant coverage by the VA's mental health coverage.