Veterans Crisis Line (number two in a series)
Responders stand ready 24/7, every day of the year, serving Veterans as their family – because trauma doesn’t take a holiday.
It’s the holiday season. Much of the country is celebrating, feasting, partying, gathering with family, attending religious services, watching football, and, of course, exchanging gifts. Meanwhile, consider a Veteran, who, lonely and depressed, isolates him or herself from their family, who in turn may feel helpless to give assistance.
It’s not just the holidays – any time can be stressful to many people, but even more so if you’ve seen unspeakable atrocities of war, experiences that are a far cry from the American life you’ve been protecting. Such has been the case for Veterans of our wars whose hidden memories haunt their dreams. Fortunately, that pattern is changing with the Veterans Crisis Line.
Since its founding in 2007, the staff has answered nearly 2 million calls and initiated the dispatch of emergency services to callers in crisis over 53,000 times. The Veterans Crisis Line anonymous online chat service, added in 2009, has engaged in more than 250,000 chats. In November 2011, the Veterans Crisis Line introduced a confidential text messaging service that has responded to more than 44,000 texts.
During their shifts (which can happen at any time, any day), responders immediately let the caller know that the person on the other end of the line cares and will listen as long as needed. Responders stay on the line until they are either assured of the caller’s safety via a family member or forward the situation to local emergency response teams, who have the situation in hand. Because the Crisis Line is anonymous, it can be difficult at times to pinpoint where an emergency team should go. That’s when responders initiate some amazing detective work to get a Veteran to hands-on help.
The Veterans Crisis Line works because responders care about each Veteran who contacts the hotline as if they were family. And the concept of family is a constant thread throughout the team. This is an opportunity to belong to a close-knit team in order to save lives and make a life-altering difference.
The impact of a connection with the Veteran, her family, and the responder is twofold: a partnership between the two, bonding with mere minutes to turn the corner and save a life – true crisis intervention. The responder lets the caller know she is not alone anymore.
In the next post in this series, I’ll talk about the inner rewards of being a responder for the Veterans Crisis Line.
In the meantime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, Veterans in crisis and their loved ones can receive confidential support:
- Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
- Chat online
- Send a text message to 838255
For more information, visit https://www.veteranscrisisline.net
If you’re interested in a job on the Veterans Crisis Line or supporting Veterans in many other ways, please visit VA Careers.