Immediate help for vets going through hard times

Jake Hughes
September 11, 2018 - 12:35 pm

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We all know the statistics. Around twenty veterans take their own lives each day. In recent years, the resources available to veterans have grown exponentially. Being that it is September, National Suicide Prevention Month, many groups are pushing suicide awareness. But the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America have never let up their fight against veteran suicide.

In 2012, IAVA started their Rapid Response Referral Program, also known as RRRP. This is an avenue for vets to seek help, not just when having suicidal thoughts, but when dealing with the issues that lead to those thoughts, like unemployment, homelessness, legal, financial or mental health struggles. According to Melissa Bryant, IAVA’s Chief Policy Officer, it’s not just for post-9/11 veterans either.

“Veterans of all eras are welcome to go online and fill out our intake form, and be connected with a Masters-level social worker or case manager, who is able to walk you through any issue you may be having.”

When veterans call the RRRP, they immediately get connected with the social worker who will listen to their problems. There are no wait times or machine recordings; everything is live and in person. Once the veteran is stable, the counselor will connect him or her to someone from the VA’s Veteran Crisis Line, and will not hang up until the veteran is being helped. Again, there is no “make an appointment,” or answering machines.

Patrice Sullivan is Senior Veteran transition manager for IAVA. She works through the RRRP to help veterans for a very personal reason. Her high-school sweetheart and husband was a Marine Corps veteran who struggled with his transition.

“He used to say, ‘I was a sergeant in the Marine Corps, and now I can’t even find a job’.” In March of 2005, he took his own life. Patrice went to IAVA for the very support she now gives other veterans. “I just said to myself that this is where I need to be.”

You don’t have to be a member of IAVA to take part in the program. If you or a buddy needs help, visit the Rapid Response Referral Program website to be immediately entered into their system.

If you’re a veteran in crisis or concerned about one, there are helpful, qualified VA responders standing by to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. VA Crisis Line call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. 

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