HometownFort Hood


Veterans hopeful 988 crisis hotline number will save veteran lives

Posted at 8:05 PM, Jul 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-18 21:05:50-04

KILLEEN, TX — On average, 22 veterans die by suicide every day and so many more suffer in silence.

It’s a statistic that is all too familiar in Central Texas.

”It’s just hard because our mentality is so different. We were trained to have this certain mindset and to let that go is almost like being weak,” said Annette Whittenberger, U.S Army veteran struggling with PTSD. “It’s not though. It’s being weak but it took me years to figure that out.”

With Fort Hood being one of the largest military installations the United States has and being located in Central Texas, a crisis lifeline is crucial.

Now there are only three numbers to dial to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

”You can get a veterans crisis hotline in conjunction with this 988 now. So again, it’s just to make it easier to access it,” said Teresa Phelps, a sergeant with the Bell County Sheriff's Department’s Mental Health Training Center.

988 is an anonymous and free lifeline for anyone in a crisis situation.

”It’s a multi-resource. So, even [with] our VA you don’t have to be registered with VA benefits or the healthcare program,” said Sgt. Phelps. “As long as your military based somehow, from some portion of your life, it’s even available to them.”

Veterans like Whittenberger who struggle with PTSD don’t know if this resource will be making much of a difference.

”I know that we had the hotline before and I'm not sure people used it as much as we could because there is still a lot of fear from those who want to talk about it,” said Whittenberger.

She is hopeful that by making it as easy to remember as 911 more vets and their families will be willing to call.

”Everyone is trying to find better ways to be helpful to help those who are suffering. So, I think we need to use it. It’s there for us,” said Whittenberger.

Suicide doesn’t only affect the person in crisis, it affects everyone around them, and anyone can dial 988 to ask for help.