Stand by Them and Help a Veteran: Veterans Crisis Line

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In support of Suicide Prevention Month, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs along with many other local and national organizations are pledging their support to the prevention of this all too common occurrence. Through programs like the Veterans Crisis Line (a 24/7 hotline for military members, their family members, and surrounding community), the VA reported a slight decrease in the daily suicide rate among veterans from 25 percent in 1999 to 21 percent in 2010. While this decrease is definitely a positive step in the right direction, saving every person's life continues to be a top priority of the VA with the Veterans Crisis Line. Veteran and community manager for USAA's Military Spouse Community, Chazz Pratt, interviewed Dr. Janet Kemp, the national director of the Veterans Affair's suicide prevention program, in May 2012. In this interview they discussed the Veterans Crisis Line and other resources that veterans can seek for help. Here's an excerpt of the interview: ********************************************************************************************************************************************** Charles "Chazz" Pratt III (CP3): You have many programs available to Military Veterans. Which is the most visible program you have? Dr. Janet Kemp (Dr. K): Probably the most visible of our programs is The Veterans Crisis Line, which is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. We also have a Chatting Service and a Texting Service available. CP3: How many people have contacted the Veteran's Crisis Line? Dr. K: Over 600,000 people have contacted us to date and we have been able to make a difference in their lives. CP3: You started this in 2007. What challenges did you have early on? Dr. K.: Just note this is a VA concept not a Janet Kemp concept. There's a tremendous amount of internal VA support behind this. Whenever you endeavor to set something up on a national basis, there are a lot of barriers. Namely, we needed to be able to provide services out of one location in order to serve Veterans all across the United States. We needed a phone routing system that would allow people to get their calls directly to us using a popular number - something readily available. We partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Life Line Crisis Centers to use the National Suicide Prevention Number and they have been extraordinary partners in this endeavor. CP3: Can anyone associated with the military call the number? Dr. K.: Anyone in the country can call the same number, 1-800-273-8255 PRESS 1. If you're a Veteran or a member of the military, once you're instructed to PRESS 1, they route your call to our Call Center. So, we're able to help Callers from a national perspective into the Veterans Call Center, and it also allows anyone in a Military Family or Community or an Organization to utilize the same number to get help. Because suicide is not unique to only Veterans, we're kind of all in this together. NOTE: You can access the above interview in its entirety by going to the 'Civilian Careers' section of http://www.usaa.com/spousecommunity/. ********************************************************************************************************************************************** The Veterans Crisis Line is just one resource to help in the prevention of suicide among veterans. For more information, please access the VA's website at http://www.va.gov/. Do you know of additional resources? Please share them here in the Vet Community, as well as every day with your brothers and sisters in uniform.