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Preventing Veteran Suicide

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For every soldier killed this year in Iraq or Afghanistan, back home 25 veterans have killed themselves. Five years ago the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs started a crisis hotline.  Those struggling could call 24/7 and talk with a counselor.  But times change and especially for young veterans talking on a phone became a barrier. Brad Beasley is with Cross Link Media.  "We found that most people these days prefer to text rather than talk." 

And so Beasley came up with an idea. His San Antonio tech company developed a way for veterans to text. "The way the program works is exactly like sending a text message to a friend or family member."

So far more than 85,000 text messages have been sent to counselors at the crisis center and while there's no telling how many lives it has saved the VA says there's no doubt it has. Larry Stokes is with the VA Suicide Prevention Program. "I know it has. I know it has."

Stokes says the key is providing these veterans information by any means possible. "Once they get the information we're able to bring them in and we're able to coordinate care. It's a wonderful thing. It's a wonderful thing."

The only regret Beasley has is that this wasn't around 30 years ago. "I had a cousin who was a Vietnam vet. He committed suicide after being in all sorts of trauma after coming home. It got to the point where he couldn't handle it anymore, and unfortunately, made the worse decision he could make."

Beasley says he doesn't want any veteran to make the same decision. And hopes before they would they'll first send a text. 

And the that number to text is 838-255.

Written By Wendy Damonte
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