By Jim Vines | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Department of Veterans Affairs is expanding its efforts to prevent suicide through several new initiatives that increase the availability of services for Veterans, service members and their families.
The new initiatives include free, confidential text-messaging service in the existing Veterans Crisis Line, introduction of all toll-free access from Europe, and collaboration with Vets Prevail and Vets4Warriors, two groups providing crisis help to veterans.
Offering text messaging services will help the VA reach more veterans and their friends and families. The VA is working to meet their needs by communicating through multiple channels, over the phone, through online chat, and now via text, which provides quick, easy access to support. The VA wants all veterans to know that a confidential support is only a text away.
Since its founding July 2007, the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line and later Chat Service have received 500,000 calls and engaged in 31,000 chats resulting in over 18,000 rescues of veterans in immediate crisis.
Now, in addition to the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and press 1) and online chat www.veteranscrisisline.net, veterans and service members in crisis and their friends and families, may text free of charge to 83-8255 to receive confidential, personal and immediate support. The service is available 24 hours, seven days a week , and connects a user with a specially trained VA professional, many of whom are veterans themselves.
As part of the effort to extend the VA’s reach, veterans and members of the military community in Europe may now receive free, confidential support from the European Military Crisis Line, a new initiative recently launched by the VA.
Callers in Europe can dial 0800-1237-8255 or DSN 118 to receive confidential support from responders at the Veterans Crisis Line in the U.S.
Two organizations available to add additional support include Vets Prevail www.vetsprevail.org and Vets4Warriors www.vets4warriors.com. For more information go to www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention.
Speak to you again next week.
Jim Vines is commander of AmVets Post 133.