Many veterans experience a difficult time transitioning to civilian life after returning from service. Every day, about 20 veterans in the United States will die by suicide; however, only 50% of returning veterans who need mental health services will receive treatment (National Veterans Foundation, 2018). According to the US Dept. of Veteran Affairs, mental health challenges, substance use disorders, chronic medical conditions and pain are associated with an increased risk for suicide. Further complicating the issue, many veterans face barriers to treatment, such as stigma, fear of appearing “weak,” longer than normal wait times, travel distances, and other demographic barriers. Veterans need better access to support and resources when they come home, and, with the help of a generous donor, Crisis Connections hopes to fill that gap.
Crisis Connections offers peer-to-peer support for adults living with a mental health condition through their WA Warm Line program. Trained staff and volunteers who experienced an emotional or mental health challenge answer these phone calls. Having access to a local, peer support line can help many individuals feel more understood, more empowered to help themselves, and more connected. As a result, Crisis Connections is very excited to announce their brand new support line exclusively for veterans: Operation: Veteran Support Line.
“As a veteran myself, I understand the need for vets to connect with others who have shared experiences of having served in the armed forces,” says Executive Director of Crisis Connections Allie Franklin. “By speaking with someone who is in their own recovery, a veteran not only hears that there is hope, but is connected to tangible evidence – a person who is living proof that there is hope for someone who is facing difficult times.”
Operation: Veteran Support Line will serve as a branch of the WA Warm Line, in which veterans who call the Warm Line may request to speak with a fellow veteran. If a veteran is available at that time, the caller will have the opportunity to speak with one of our volunteers who is a veteran and receive support from a peer.
Franklin further states, “Vets speak a whole other language of acronyms but also of a connection to mission and purpose that is different than other types of professions. Additionally, some veterans find it difficult to seek support for behavioral health conditions. Talking with a fellow veteran who has themselves dealt with behavioral health conditions can provide the essential support and validation that a veteran may need to acknowledge their unique needs.”
This program also provides veterans the opportunity to continue their service to other veterans after returning home. Many veterans struggle to find that purpose after serving, and volunteering to support other veterans and their mental health is a powerful way for veterans to use their experience to help someone else who may be struggling.
If you or a loved one are going through a challenging time or just need someone to talk to, please call us at: 1.877.500.WARM.
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call: 1.800.273.8255
To learn more about Operation: Veteran Support Line, WA Warm Line, or Crisis Connections, visit us online at www.crisisiconnections.org