The VA Combat Call Center, located outside of Denver, Colo., is a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week referral service for Veterans, family members and anyone looking to help a Veteran. We also field calls from active-duty members and their family members seeking counseling services with Vet Centers across the country.
If they call, we can help.
When a Veteran calls us, they are talking to someone who not only cares, but who can also relate to them on a personal level as all of our staff members are either combat Veterans themselves or spouses of disabled Veterans. Whenever they pick up the phone, it could be a battle buddy, or the spouse of Veteran who was injured in combat like their spouse. We value that personal connection as a powerful tool in helping us provide great customer service and meeting the needs of each Veteran or family member who needs our help.
In addition to being able to relate and connect with callers, our staff members are also highly trained and possess the experience necessary to provide the right help or service to them. Several of our staff members are licensed mental health providers.
One of our readjustment counseling technicians, Josh Hanover, served two combat tours in Iraq before completing his education.
“This multifaceted role means a great deal to me, both personally and professionally,” said Hanover, “because I think we have a unique opportunity to make a difference for Veterans, the VA and ourselves. As VA employees, we battle perceptions every day. Given the recent challenges faced by VA in providing care to Veterans, our staffing model serves as the gold standard of what VA care should look like. [That includes] Veterans taking care of each other to overcome the obstacles faced during our time in the military, as well as what we now face in the private sector.
“Personally, I feel fortunate to be in a position where I can be available for fellow Veterans who are having difficulties, in spite of my own ongoing struggles. It’s a great feeling to be able to demonstrate to fellow Veterans, and not just tell them, ‘Hey friend, it’s going to get better. Let me share some of my experience with you. Let me help you get started on your own personal journey to healing.’ Peer support is a key element to healing. We’re here to do that.”
Our Combat Call Center staff members are subject matter experts on mental health based services offered by VA, such as: mental health/readjustment counseling, homeless programs, bereavement assistance, substance abuse and PTSD treatment options. They can also assist the Veteran looking for services such as the G.I. Bill and VA home loan guaranty. We routinely provide callers with information about various VA programs, as well as local programs, and instruct them on how to obtain copies of their DD-214s.
On occasion, we will receive a call from a Veteran who is thinking about taking his or her own life, or is obviously suffering from severe depression. Our folks are trained to recognize the symptoms and take steps to get Veterans the help they need. We have a strong working relationship with the Veterans Crisis Line. When our staff has a Veteran in crisis on the line, he or she can get a counselor from the Veterans Crisis Line on the call, introduce them and then warm transfer the caller to a licensed professional, uniquely qualified to deal with veterans in crisis.
The Combat Call Center is always available to assist our fellow Veterans. Give us a call at 1-877-WAR-VETS.
Tom McCabe is a Readjustment Counseling Therapist at the RCS Combat Call Center in Lakewood, Co. He was came aboard as a supervisor at its inception in April 2009 and has served as the manager since August 2013. Prior to joining the VA, Tom was a Counseling Psychologist at the Army hospital at Fort Campbell KY. He served 25 ½ years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer in 2004.