Friday, June 3, 2011

Veterans' Crisis Line Rebranded

Source: The Retired Enlisted Association Washington Update, 3 June 2011

VA Suicide Prevention Outreach Program-The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has embarked on a “rebranding” campaign for the former “Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline,” which has been renamed the “Veterans Crisis Line.” The Veteran Crisis Line call center is located in Canandaigua, NY and is staffed with professional responders trained and dedicated to serving veterans and their families.

The number is 1-800-273-8255; press 1 in order to reach the part of the system designed for veterans. The line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year in order to serve veterans and their families when crises strike. The line is intended to help ALL VETERANS, even if they are not registered with the VA.

The intent of the VA’s campaign is to promote help-seeking behavior among the veteran community so that the chances are increased that somebody, either the veteran or their family, makes the critical first call for help. The campaign is also intended to promote broader VA suicide prevention efforts to foster greater trust in the VA, as well as increasing awareness and use of the veterans hotline and the fact that confidential help is available and that the treatment is effective.

The VA is seeking to target all sectors of the veteran community with this media campaign. The current news cycle is mainly about the suicide problem among returning OIF/OEF veterans, but apparently there is a problem among all age demographics in the veteran community. The National Guard/Reserve components, Vietnam-era vets, women, Native Americans (who have a very large risk of suicide as a population) and elder vets (among whom white males are the highest risk segment and they are very hard to reach).

The name change took place because key stakeholders felt that it was better to lower the threshold from suicidal to “being in a crisis,” in hopes that this lessened the stigma associated with seeking help, both within the veteran community as well as society at large.

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