Sometimes post-traumatic stress can get to be too much for veterans. Alcohol use exacerbates the problem, the veteran becomes agitated or suicidal and the Killeen Police Department is called.
That’s where one local nonprofit now comes in to assist KPD with mental health calls — the Veterans Crisis Line-Killeen, recently reorganized in June as the 501(c)(3) nonprofit “We Leave No One Behind-Crisis Help.”
Veterans Crisis Line-Killeen remains a subsidiary of the nonprofit, said Hope Torres, vice president and director of counseling for the nonprofit.
The trained counselors are either veterans, the spouse of a veteran, active-duty soldiers or former law enforcement officers with degrees in crisis counseling able to respond to the scene of an incident, freeing police officers to resume assisting other residents, she said.
“We’ve responded to situations where (the veteran) is intoxicated, and you know the state they are in,” said Torres, an Air Force veteran and former Copperas Cove police officer. “It’s volatile. Too many people run away from our veterans when they are in crisis because they don’t understand them. Our volunteers need to be able to understand them, have a presence that says ‘I’m here and I’m not going to back down.’”
The type of counseling the nonprofit provides is not the traditional office visit kind, and assisting the police with crisis calls is not the only thing they do, she added. Torres also operates a hotline 24/7, and the volunteers will always meet the veteran in crisis at a place comfortable to them, such as their home, a park or a coffee shop.
Although under a new name, the nonprofit has been in operation for two years and has managed to keep 14 suicidal veterans from taking their own lives.
“To me, that’s a win,” she said. “Every day we lose 22 veterans to suicide. If we can save even one, it’s a win.”
Active-duty troops, veterans and their spouses and children can all use the service, Torres said. Those services are always free and the nonprofit’s volunteers maintain the privacy of those they serve.
“We operate on ethics,” she said, similar to the way doctors work with their patients. “We’re not going to tell anyone what you tell us in private.”
The nonprofit is in need of qualified volunteers and donations to run operations, as the volunteers are currently using their personal funds to answer calls, Torres added.
Veterans, active-duty troops and their families in need of assistance can call or text the hotline at anytime at 856-209-8838.