By Raymond Taylor
Archuleta County Veterans Service Office
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced its support for the Suicide Prevention 988 expansion initiative, a new national three-digit emergency telephone number to access crisis call centers across the country for suicide prevention and mental health services, including the Veterans Crisis Line, by July 2022.
The VA is working alongside the Federal Communications Commission, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to implement and activate the 988 expansion.
“The 988 three-digit number will help veterans and nonveteran callers quickly access help in times of crisis and open the door to engage new individuals in life-saving care,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “The Veterans Crisis Line will continue to remain available 24/7, 365 days a year, by calling (800) 273-8255 and pressing 1.”
Once activated, the 988 expansion will also grant the VA the opportunity to collaborate with the suicide prevention community across the United States. This initiative is aligned with the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide, or PREVENTS, program, a nationwide plan to raise awareness about mental health, connect veterans and others at risk of suicide to federal and local resources.
Post-traumatic stress disorder research
The VA also recently announced, during national Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness month, the VA’s National Center for PTSD will fund more research about PTSD.
This is thanks to the proceeds from the Healing PTSD semipostal stamp, which was issued in December 2019 by the U.S. Postal Service.
More than 7 million stamps were sold from December 2019 to May, garnering upwards of $717,000 which has been disbursed to the VA.
“Thanks to the millions of Americans who purchased the Healing PTSD stamp, VA will continue to study, create awareness, educate and develop policies which better the lives of veterans with PTSD,” said Wilkie. “The stamp not only raises awareness about PTSD, but will provide funding for needed research and education about trauma and PTSD treatment.”
Anyone who has seen or gone through a traumatic event, such as war, sexual assault or a serious accident, can develop PTSD. As a result, they may experience problems sleeping, trouble concentrating, recurrent dreams about the trauma, intense reactions to reminders of the trauma, disturbances in relationships and/or isolation. However, PTSD can be treated.
The VA offers personalized effective treatments for PTSD including talk therapy and medication. During PTSD Awareness Month and all year-round, the VA encourages veterans to find out more about PTSD and treatment.
This initiative is aligned to the president’s PREVENTS program, a nationwide plan to raise awareness about mental health, connect veterans and others at risk of suicide to federal and local resources.
For more information about PTSD, visit www.ptsd.va.gov.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call (800) 273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
Veterans: Thank you for your Service. Welcome home.
For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center, on Hot Springs Boulevard.
The office: 264-4013, fax number: 264-4014, and email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office. Always leave me a message and phone number to contact you.
The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:
• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa Street
• Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Episcopal Church, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.
• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, Lewis Street. Contact Gary Hanneman at 946-2540.
• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: first and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Carter’s office; contact Charlotte at 903-9690.
• 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.
• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.
• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.
• VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.
• VA Health Care Emergency Notification: (844) 724-7842.
The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online, or text 838255.