Service Members Peer to Peer Support
By Debbie Gregory.
Every branch of the U.S. military takes pride in honoring the generations of warriors that came before them. From revering historic events and battles, to obeying instructions from their senior leaders, to following the guy in front of them in ranks, service members take a lot of their cues from their predecessors. This is as it should be, because who know more about the position that a service member is currently standing in than a person whose boots were previously in that same exact spot? This is the wisdom that the Vets4Warriors program was founded on in 2010.
The stated mission for Vets4Warriors, sponsored by the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, is “For any issue, at any time, a Veteran is here to help. We all need a helping hand sometimes and Vets4Warriors provides 24/7 confidential peer support, information, and referrals for all service members.”
Originally, the program was intended only for members of the National Guard and Reserves, but since September 2013, Vets4Warriors has been open to any current member of the active duty military, National Guard and Reserves. Since their inception, the Vets4Warriors programs has fielded over 45,000 calls to their call center and 2,000 internet chats. The program provides current service members and their families with guidance and support.
The support that the Vets4Warriors program offers comes in multiple forms, such as call centers, email and instant messaging chat boxes. Veterans from all branches of service who have had similar experiences, as well as military family members who are empathetic to the pressures of military life, provide around the clock peer support.
The Veterans in the call center provide reassurance that the struggles faced by the person on the other end of the line, while unique to military lives, are not unique to them alone. Veterans manning the toll-free number are trained to provide service members with information about resources and programs that are available to benefit them and their current needs, and in some cases, can offer referrals to programs and benefits.
The family members who staff the call centers are trained to offer military families, caregivers and survivors assistance and support in times of crisis and need.
All Veterans and family members who man the Vets4Warriors call center assist callers in managing stress, staying healthy, overcoming adversity and building resilience. Along with fielding calls, the program provides follow-up support for as long as the service member or family member is struggling with that issue, even if it takes months.
All communications to the Vets4Warriors program is confidential, and is not disclosed to the military or anyone else. Callers can remain anonymous, if they choose to do so.
The Vets4Warriors contact information would be good to keep in your cell phone, your email address book, or on your refrigerator. Their toll-free number is (855) 838-8255. You can email them at [email protected] and visit the program’s website at www.vets4warriors.com
As in all emergency situations, you are advised to dial 9-11 or your local emergency number. You can also call the Military Crisis Line at (800) 273- 8255 (1).