CrossLink Media Develops Crisis Texting Service For VA
San Antonio-based CrossLink Media LLC is working with the U.S. Veterans Administration to provide a new avenue of support for veterans contemplating suicide. By Mike W. Thomas Read it over on the San Antonio Business Journal.
Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families now have access to a texting service that will allow them to reach out discreetly and free of charge to trained professionals for help with such issues.
Suicide among current and former members of the military has been a terrible problem for a number of years, says Brad Beasley, managing member of CrossLink Media.
The VA has operated a 1-800 telephone service for members of the military contemplating suicide since 2002. In 2009, the VA launched an online chat service to complement the 24-hour telephone service that operates out of the VA Crisis Center in Canandaigua, N.Y.
Since its founding in July 2007, VA’s Veterans Crisis Line and the later Chat Service have received 500,000 calls and engaged in 31,000 chats resulting in over 18,000 rescues of veterans in immediate crisis.
Now, in addition to the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1) and the online chat service (www.VeteransCrisisLine.net), veterans and service members in crisis — and their friends and families — may text free of charge to 838255 to receive confidential, personal and immediate support. The text service is available, like the Veterans Crisis Line and online chat, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It connects a user with a specially trained VA professional — many of whom are veterans.
How it works
The new texting service uses a software platform developed by CrossLink Media. Beasley says the five-digit number for the service — 838255 or VETALK — will work with all major wireless carriers and will be free of charge.
“Offering text messaging services will help the VA reach more veterans and their friends and families,” says Dr. Janet Kemp, VA’s national mental health director for suicide prevention. “We are working to meet their needs by communicating through multiple channels — over the phone, through online chat, and now via text, which provides quick, easy access to support. The VA wants all veterans to know that confidential support is only a text message away.”
When someone texts the number, it alerts the facility that someone needs help, and they are channeled into a two-way live discussion with a trained counselor via texting. The texting communication is continued until the person is deemed comfortable enough to accept a phone call.
Beasley says it is easier for many service members today to reach out through texting because it is more anonymous and less threatening than a direct phone call.
“The service is very secure and confidential,” Beasley says. “There is no digital footprint left after the call. This is all about trying to save lives, and there is nothing more important than that initial attempt by the service member to reach out for help.”
Beasley says he had a member of his own family, a Vietnam veteran, who committed suicide 30 years ago, so he has a personal interest in trying to help veterans in these situations. “This is just another access point to help start the dialogue,” he says. “The first step is always the hardest obstacle to overcome.”
Beasley declined to provide revenue figures for his company or say how much was invested in the texting software, but he notes it is just a small part of what the company does for the military, which is a major focus of his company. CrossLink Media is an interactive mobile-marketing company with nine employees, many of whom are veterans.
Click to download a copy of the article here: CrossLink Media’s efforts to provide Crisis Texting for the Veterans Administration.