Oklahoma City_ A new national suicide prevention hot line could ensure veterans with emotional crises have round-the-clock access to trained professionals, state Rep. Joe Dorman said today. "Veterans facing the emotional toll of their service now can find help literally a phone call away," said Dorman, D-Rush Springs.
"Service members who experience the stresses of combat can have mental wounds as well as physical ones, and it's important that we treat both. Veterans should see mental health services as another benefit they have earned."
The toll-free hot line number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Dorman, whose district includes Fort Sill, authored a resolution during the 2007 legislative session to promote suicide prevention awareness. To operate the national hotline, the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs is partnering with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
"The hot line will put veterans in touch with trained professionals who can help," Dorman said. "This is an important service for our nation's fighting men and women, especially combat veterans newly returned from Iraq and Afghanistan." The Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest provider of mental health care in the nation. This year, the Department will spend about $3 billion for mental health. More than 9,000 mental health professionals, backed up by primary care physicians and other health professionals in every VA medical center and outpatient clinic, provide mental health care to about 1 million veterans each year.
"With the recent increase in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder cases, there is a great need to provide assistance - in some cases, just a voice to listen - to many of these veterans," Dorman said. "The hotline is a good first step to put these men and women on track to lead normal lives after the events that they have seen and have to live with the rest of their lives. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their bravery and the government must step up, unlike in past wars, to help our veterans live normal lives after their service."