On Sept. 27, Marine veteran William Fuzi called the national Veterans Crisis Line when he thought he was having a panic attack. He was put on hold for 36 minutes. Fortunately, Fuzi isn’t without a sense of humor and recorded the experience. In fact, the act of filming the hotlines’ failure actually alleviated the stress and tension he was feeling. Unfortunately, Fuzi is not alone and many other veterans have faced a solid wall when turning to these crisis lines for help.
When Army veteran Dedra Hughes’ thoughts turned to suicide, she too turned to the hotline, and like Fuzi was met with “Please, hold,” rather than the support she was seeking. After hanging up, Hughes turned to a local veterans group, which sent someone to her door that evening. After that experience, she swore she “would never call the hotline again.”
With the veterans community --- like much of the nation --- struggling to figure out how to address issues of suicide and mental health, reports like these represent a significant stumbling block.