As the battle to provide support to the seemingly increasing number of military personnel with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rages on, the Pentagon announced earlier this year that they would no longer be funding the peer to peer support program being provided by Vets4Warriors.
Vets4Warriors has a staff of about 40 Veterans who man phone lines and speak with Veterans who are calling seeking someone to talk to. Nobody will ever know how many lives they may have saved with their non-clinical means of helping military personnel cope with issues. The loss of Vets4Warriors could be detrimental to the military community as a whole, especially as the Veterans Administration (VA) seems to always be in the news as failing to take care of Veterans. To be fair, it is a lot easier for the news networks to report on the bad stuff the VA does or does not do than it is the report on the good the VA does.
Luckily for Vets4Warriors and all military personnel, the New Jersey Legislature voted in late June 2015 to spend $2.5 million on Vets4Warriors , essentially funding another year of operations for the program which is headquartered in their state. Since 2011, Vets4Warriors has fielded more than 130,000 calls from military personnel around the globe and thanks to the newly found funding, they will be able to continue to do so for one more year as the seek other funding sources.
The Pentagon has ceased to continue to provide support for and promote Vets4Warriors and will instead focus on promoting the programs offered by Military OneSource. Military OneSource is able to provide not only peer to peer counseling, but also support for family members or financial support services. In an age where every cost cutting measure is being taken to save money and help to stretch the defense budget, it was only a matter of time before services were consolidated under one roof.
Fellow Veterans I have spoke with preferred dealing with the Veterans at Vets4Warriors rather than contacting the Veteran Crisis Line which is where the Military OneSource “Crisis Line” link leads to. One Veteran told me “There is just something about knowing that you are talking with another Veteran”. He continued to explain that he was concerned that if he were to contact the Veteran Crisis Line, He would be “connected to some random VA Employee that may not understand where he was coming from and what he was really trying to tell them”.
I think it is safe to say that when a Veteran decides it is time to pick up the phone and make the call, it is not always about receiving help from a licensed medical clinician and sometimes just having a another Veteran to talk to and help you get through a bump in the road can be just as if not more effective. Vets4Warriors being able to continue operations for another year is a win for everyone, but now they have less than a year to find funding to help them be able to continue to operate once the $2.5 million voted on by the NJ Legislature runs dry.
Vets4Warriors offers 24/7 confidential and anonymous peer support for service members and families. They can be reached at:
Online Chat: Click here
The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can contact the crisis line at:
Text Message: text to 838255
Online Chat: Click here