From The Military Helpline Comes Hope

April 1, 2011


It was a relaxed Friday afternoon. The week was winding down and I was getting excited for the weekend. Suddenly, my phone rang and it was a Military Helpline call.

“Thank you for calling the Lifeline, my name is Josh.” I said. The person on the other end responded quietly and unhurried: “I want to kill myself”.

The caller was an older gentleman dealing with a strong desire to end his life. To connect with him, I listened to his reasons for dying that included severe depression and unreconciled grief. The caller had no money due to being unemployed for over a year and was constantly criticized for it by his wife. I reflected back to the caller his feelings of worthlessness, frustration, and despair.

The caller shared how his father told him to never quit, but he did not see a way out other than suicide. So I asked him if he had a plan to kill himself. The caller did have a plan and that was to shoot himself. I asked if he had access to a firearm. He said that he was outdoors with a firearm but would not disclose his location.

From being in the service, I know how veterans like their firearms. So I asked the caller what kind of firearm he had, and he responded that it was a .45. After having a cheery talk about guns, I asked the caller to unload his .45 because I was concerned for his safety. He agreed and I could hear the .45 being cleared over the phone, a sound unmistakable after spending 6 years in the infantry.

I congratulated the caller for unloading his weapon and making the first step to staying safe. I told him the next step would be contacting a counselor. The caller agreed to leave the weapon unloaded and the ammunition in a different location and to contact the local counseling agency I had referred. The caller expressed his gratitude to me for listening to his pain and helping him make the decision to continue living another day.

This is just one story of many of the high risk calls we receive on the Military Helpline and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The staff and volunteers of Oregon Partnership are real life superheroes who save lives every day.

- Josh


Getting Ready to be Deployed

February 18, 2011

(Editor’s note: Tim is an Army Ranger Lieutenant who was instrumental in helping us launch the Military Helpline. He has been called up and is receiving final training before shipping out overseas)

I drove across the country in 4 days during one of the most massive snow storms in the Midwest’s history. I have gotten lost on base more times than I can count and have felt more like a Private then a Officer on more on then one occasion as I try to get myself situated. I have been worked into the ground and spent easy days lounging about. I have met guys from every corner of the country and work with an NCO that was in Restrepo. I made a fast friend that turned into an on base housing roommate.

My inception into Active duty has been an experience that I have nothing to compare to. I am at the same base that I became a young PFC at, my only experience has been from basic training and for that matter, is a bad comparison now looking back, but seeing as it was all I had, it’s what I focused on. When I showed up here last time, I had had about 5 hours of sleep and was looking at a 36 hour-long day ahead of me – full of getting shots, shaved head, and enough verbal abuse to last a lifetime. When I showed up this time, I was welcomed with a handshake and a intro into what would be required of us the first week. Its been an odd change, from going to absolutely no power or control, where every decision is made for you to complete freedom when you’re not training has been odd. With that transition comes responsibility.

It has been an odd experience so far, full of life experiences, traveling through the country to report in to become an infantry officer. On occasion I dread, not the decision I made, but the hard work that accompanies the job I choose. While it is still difficult adjust being away from everything I love in Oregon, I keep moving knowing that, eventually, I will return and that my family and friends will support me through all my struggles.

So, from one moment to another, life has changed rather quickly, and while I have known it was coming for a while, no matter how much I try to adjust or accept it, it’s still a shock, it’s still a drastic change from the usual.

The only difference now is that we are meant to do this, we are supposed to do this. We can do this.

- Tim


Military Family Month

November 23, 2010

President Obama has proclaimed November Military Family Month, noting that military family members “serve,” too, and also require community support.

“I call on all Americans to honor military families through private actions and public service for the tremendous contributions they make in support of our service members and our nation,” the President said in his proclamation.

Experts in both the military and civilian sectors found that the U.S. will be facing increasing addiction and mental-health problems among returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghan war. All returning veterans face adjustments, but for some, dealing with traumatic experiences can lead to diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, substance abuse and addiction. These problems not only affect the individual, but can have a profound impact on families and communities.

The Military Helpline is here for military families to use as a free, confidential resource. Not only for dire needs, such as suicide or PTSD, but for assistance in navigating the system so that families can get the benefits and support they’re entitled to.

We are so thankful for the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifices of every person who has served – either as a member of the military or of the family that serves as well. Make sure they know assistance is available by spreading the word about this 24/7 service. 888-HLP-4-VET (888) 457-4838 – or on the web at http://www.militaryhelpline.org.

-Tom


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