Rural-based crisis hotline reaches veterans in need

The woman on the line wouldn’t say her name, only that she was driving to the woods to take some pills. Her husband and kids would be better off without her, she said, and she just wanted them to know she loved them. But the responder – one of 160 mental health professionals who staff the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) veterans’ crisis line – kept her on the line for hours while she drove. And gradually she began to share more about herself. She told the responder her name and where she lived, so another staff member was able to contact her husband. He told them the make and model of her car, which allowed local police to track down her vehicle parked alongside the road. “They found her and got her into the VA, and a few months later she was back home, doing well and very happy to be alive,” says Janet Kemp, PhD, VA National Suicide Prevention Program director. “Things like this happen all the time.” Learn more about the rural New York responders who answer 400 calls a day, seven days a week in this NRHA Rural Roads magazine article. The National Rural Health Association salutes veterans and active duty service men and women and those who care for them.