In the last year alone, IAVA has helped more than 20,000 veterans seeking mental health support. But yesterday, the U.S. Army reported that active-duty and reserve suicides climbed in January with 22 soldiers taking their lives - and that was just one branch.
Over the last few years, IAVA's Community of Veterans has been there for tens of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans when nobody else was. It's provided critical jobs resources, GI Bill info and live chats. It's also provided support for vets on sleepless nights, a place to talk about PTSD and a safe space to discuss issues only vets understand. But sometimes, vets in the community have needed help beyond our scope.
Now, thanks to this new partnership with our friends at the Veterans Crisis Line, IAVA will have a stronger, lifesaving backstop anytime we need it. Backed by more than 200 courageous, dedicated professionals, the Veterans Crisis Line offers free confidential crisis support 24/7 through phone, text and live online chats. It will provide a direct line of support for IAVA staff working with at-risk veterans. And that means no waiting, no bureaucracy and saving more lives.
No one needs to be reminded that our community is facing a suicide crisis. Last year, 278 soldiers took their lives in the Army alone. Many veterans have felt the pain of losing a buddy or know someone who has. Recently, a majority of our members told us in IAVA's survey that mental health and preventing suicide are priorities for them and have been from the beginning.
Back in 2007, IAVA fought for the creation of the Veterans Crisis Line as part of the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act. Joshua served in Iraq with the 339th MP Company but lost a battle to PTSD when he came home. Over the years, IAVA has worked with Joshua's mom, our members nationwide and leaders in Washington to deliver the 24/7 support and resources that didn't exist for Joshua. The Veterans Crisis Line is part of his legacy.
IAVA will continue to stay focused on this fight. We're committed to getting our members and their families the immediate support they need and deserve. It's one more way we can all have each other's back.
Thank you for your support.
Paul Rieckhoff Founder and Executive Director Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
PS – Family or friend of a veteran? Add the Veterans Crisis Line to your phone, it only takes a second: 1-800-273-8255. Or text "838255" for support.
A very important message from IAVA -- Sean P Eagan