PISCATAWAY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The pandemic has negatively impacted the mental health of many, including veterans.
Isolation, anxiety and other struggles have been intensified.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reports, help is just a phone call away.
Vets4Warriors is described as “a leading 24/7 peer support and resource connection network for any service member, veteran, family member or caregiver.”
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark Graham says the call volume to the national Vets4Warriors helpline, based in New Jersey, has increased by 18% since the start of the pandemic.
“We have Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps veterans. We have male and female veterans,” Graham said. “If you call and say ‘I want to talk to a male Marine veteran,’ OK.”
The phones are answered by military peers like retired U.S. Marine Michael Carro, who served in Afghanistan. He can relate.
“When I was going through my bouts of depression and PTSD struggles, this was the peer-supporting aspect really turned my life around. Helped me like, you know, just show that other veterans out there struggle, too,” Carro said.
The goal is to help individuals before their situation becomes a crisis. Carro forms a peer-to-peer connection first.
“Maybe they’ll be open to go to therapy and stay with this process of, like, getting your mental health better,” Carro said.
Medical clinicians are available to jump on the line, and there are other resources, too.
“We try to connect individuals to community-based organizations as best as we can,” Graham said. “It’s like a concierge service. Not one individual’s the same when they call in.”
A billboard for Vets4Warriors recently went up in Times Square. They know that many have not been reached, so they want to get the word out that support is just a phone call away.
Someone is available to talk 24/7. Once a person connects with a peer, they stay with that peer going forward.