'Sometimes we're our own worst enemy:' WWP CEO talks mental health

Eye on Veterans
June 28, 2019 - 12:42 pm
Wounded Warrior Project CEO Mike Linnington (r) served in the Army for over 30 years

Photo courtesy Wounded Warrior Project

When it comes to the issues facing the veteran community, it's widely agreed that mental health is the most pressing. In recent years the number of programs aimed at helping vets with the invisible wounds of war have grown exponentially. Still, despite a plethora of free, effective programs many vets go untreated.

During a recent appearance on the Eye on Veterans radio show, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) CEO and retired Army Gen. Mike Linnington weighed in. 

"Frankly, sometimes we are our own worst enemy," Linnington said. "...We haven't yet as a nation, I think, normalized mental healthcare treatment. I mean, if you or I broke an arm today, we'd be in the ER this afternoon and we'd be getting cared for immediately. That's not the same with invisible wounds."

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It's a concern that Linnington says many VSOs share. While it's impossible to say just how many, there is no doubt that there are many vets who would benefit from mental health programs like those WWP provides under their Combat Stress Recovery Program. For some reason or another many veterans in need of help don't reach out. In effort to find out the "why" Linnington talks to many veterans about why they waited to seek help.He's noticed a disturbing theme among many of those whose wounds might not be readily apparent.

"They kind of feel like they're unworthy of going to get help because other veterans that have been shot, burned, had their limbs blown off are the ones that really need the care," Linnington said. "When we all know that everybody that serves should get help when they get home."

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So what's the answer? Linnington says the key is making it as clear as possible that it's perfectly normal to ask for help. 

"I think we're doing a better job as a Department of Defense and VA in normalizing the discussions about mental health and brain health," Linnington said. "But we have a long way to go, and reducing the obstacles and the stigma associated with seeking help for invisible wounds is certainly our top priority." 

You can hear the full interview with Wounded Warrior Project CEO Mike Linnington below.

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