The Veterans Crisis Line is an anonymous call center designed to encourage Veterans and their families and friends to make the call.

The professionals on the other end of the line are simply called “responders.” Yet they have a job that is unlike almost any other, anywhere. They are specially trained and experienced in helping Veterans of all ages and circumstances. Some of the responders are Veterans themselves and understand the challenges Veterans of all ages and service, their families and friends have been through.

During their shifts (which can happen at any time, any day), responders immediately let the caller know that someone is on the other end who cares and will listen as long as needed. Responders stay on the line until they are either assured of the caller’s safety via a family member, or forward the situation to local emergency rescue coordinators who have the situation in hand.

A recent HBO film about the Crisis Line features two sequences that vividly portray the understanding and compassion required on the job:

In one, responders work with an Afghanistan war Veteran and father of five who is tormented by recurring nightmares that have become unbearable. The responder tells the man, who served his country with the Marines, “You’re their father. No one can replace you.”

In another, responders and tech people are involved in a daylong search for an anonymous caller in distress. At last, through brilliant detective work, the young man is admitted to an Army medical facility. A Crisis Line supervisor comments, “This is a good ending to the day.” Success means keeping a caller engaged on the phone until they are out of danger.

If you are a Veteran in crisis, know someone who is, or are a concerned family member, please make the call.

Receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year:

  • Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
  • Chat online
  • Or send a text message to 838255

For more information, visit

If you’re interested in a job on the Crisis Line or supporting Veterans in many other ways, please visit VA Careers.

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Published on Dec. 29, 2015

Estimated reading time is 1.8 min.

Views to date: 323


  1. Jane Doe January 5, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    I agree with Juan as well. I am living a life of hell and have been for years now. My husband has bipolar and it is getting worse. His psychiatrist is not doing her job. He has told her things that should warrant a stay in the psych ward for a bit. He is psychologically abusive and I don’t know how much more I can take. There should be something someone can do. There should be some help for the spouses who live with the vets with mental illnesses. It’s very hard to live with.

  2. Ronald M Cross January 3, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    It is good that there is now a contact, a person that veterans in crisis can talk to. It is a lonely feeling that does not go away when there is no support, no one to help, no one to talk to. In my days of challenge, I had to dig deep within. That can be hard to do when standing in the middle of the mental desert.
    Anyone who is able to step up and help today’s vets deserves unending praise and gratitude.
    Thank you and, to all fellow veterans, WELCOME HOME!

  3. Liam Justice January 1, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Agree with Juan about the Doctor Issue.
    My Psychiatrist, knowing that:
    1) I had ADHD
    2) I’d lost my insurance/ADHD Meds 8 months prior
    Scorned me for talking too much/fast
    Told me the VA didn’t do Individual Therapy because It was too expensive. That They only did Group Therapy and that It would not work for me “because I talk too fast/much, noone would get a word in and, frankly: “noone’s interested in all I had to say”” VERBATIM
    As well: that I was there because my Partner had shot himself in the head, in-front of me 8 months prior, I was trying to describe his symptoms (I was his sole caregiver) because my issues involved so much. Symptoms I described: Hypervigilance, restless sleep, easily startled, paranoia, nausea, etc.
    She immediately interupted:”sounds like HIV!, did he have It? Do you have It?”
    I realized the whole Gay Veteran thing is a newer concept, but I’ll be god-damned if I have to deal with Ignorant, Biased statements like This!
    The symptoms described are not those of HIV!
    Days earlier, in meeting with my Primary the First Time, hearing I was Gay, he all but insisted I be tested for HIV and every damned strain of Hepatitus known! Again with the bias!
    This pissed me off: I promptly stated “not all Gay Men are promiscuos sex fiends: We were in a Ten Year monogamous relationship”.
    As well, check your health history: I have seen so many false, incorrect notes about my appointments!
    If another doctor were to read Them, he/she would almost have no clue as to my actual issues!
    *False Notes regarding appointment times.
    So, here I sit: almost 11 months with no treatment!
    I witnessed the suicide, lost my job, home, belongings, forced to relocate, no Social Support, very little Family Support.
    I’ve read that Self-Assessment is a useful tool for therapy: I have taken multiple Self-Tests from sites such as Psychology Today, etc., trying to present my results to the doctor: she glanced it for two seconds and handed them back!
    Hearing that most hold-back due to stigma, etc. and how doing so can affect treatment.
    I want accurate treatment! I try to present as much info as possible: I’ve been going through pure hell and would do anything to help…..I get blown-off or “redirected”!!
    One VA Intake “Specialist”, hearing my frustration about the slow treatment process actually suggested “you could say you’re suicidal if you want faster response” I’m not and was floored It was suggested!!
    Screw that, I now have so much distrust in the VA, I can only imagine what happens to Those who say yes!
    **If I’d have known this in Feb., I would’ve NOT gotten my hopes up over all the Vets Are Entitled to respectful care b.s.!
    Having nothing left of My Life, this fictious concept of VA Healthcare was a Last Hope…….thanks for absolutely nothing but more grief and stress!
    Dear VA: (redacted), (redacted) or get off the pot!

  4. Juan December 29, 2015 at 10:55 am

    I believe to my humble opinion this group of people are doing a tremendous unselfishness job, think of Veterans situation and condition! I did call them, they save my life that time, still having some thoughts but I’m afraid because my last Psychiatric dr was cruel and disrespectful, no the Veterans crisis line people they are good people is the psyc drs that are cruel.

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