Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 is part of HBO’s Fall Documentary Series and opened the doors to the only veterans crisis center in the United States. The film was directed by Ellen Goosenberg Kent and produced by Dana Perry.
It is no secret that the United States has seen a steady rise in veteran suicides. Almost every hour, a veteran takes his or her life due to the effects of war, mainly from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). That’s 22 veterans a day who have seen suicide as the only way to end their suffering. The work of the Veterans Crisis Line (“VCL”) is absolutely essential, as most of the time, the dedicated people who take calls from desperate veterans usually, if not always, save lives.
The Crisis Line consists of approximately 250 people who work either as responders, emergency rescue coordinators, or supervisors. Of those 250 employees, 25% are veterans themselves, like Luis who was a sergeant in the Army and is currently a responder. Sometimes callers will request that they speak to a veteran, which can provide a sense of camaraderie when seeking help. All employees have training in mental health and the VCL is open 24/7, 365 days a year. When Maureen, a responder, received a call from an Afghan veteran’s mother, her mental health training proved to be a smart investment. Maureen’s calm demeanor and quick thinking not only gave the frantic mother the support she needed, but also gave the veteran an alternative to suicide and brought a family back together.
It is astounding to me that there is only one crisis hotline and center for America’s veterans. These men and women made a sacrifice many of us would not, and the lack of mental support they need is unfathomable. Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 opened my eyes to the immediate need for an expansion of services for veterans and their families. Until then, the VCL will continue to do its work to keep our men and women in uniform safe.
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 is currently airing on HBO, HBO2, HBO On Demand and HBO GO.
Photos courtesy of HBO.