Military service members and veterans receive various forms of medical and psychological care from centers located across the country including The Johnson V.A. Medical Center in Charleston, The Dorn V.A. Medical Center in Columbia, and the 11 community based outpatient clinics around the state. The Department of Defense has recently taken a further step in taking care of the needs of soldiers, veterans and their families by introducing a 24-hour outreach center. Opened on January 12th, the center provides information and referrals to military personnel, veterans, their families, and others with questions about psychological health and traumatic brain injury. Brig. General Loree Sutton is a licensed physician and director of the center. Sutton says the center is staffed by behavioral health consultants and nurses who handle routine requests for information as well as more urgent calls.”We’ve already gotten calls from individuals who are at that desparate point and seriously considering suicide. I’m so thankful to be able to say that our coaches were able to engage and establish relationships and talk those desparate individuals back in off the ledge, to give life another try, to get treatment and to get help and reunite with their families and communities.”
Sutton says the center was born out of numerous requests from soldiers, veterans and family members concerned about having a place they could call for answers if they have medical or psychological issues that may crop up at anytime of the day or night. Sutton says service personnel and their families expressed that they were hungry for information and a sympathetic ear. “We need a place, we need a trained professional, when in the middle of the night, we want to reach out and have someone there who can help us sort out what’s going on, that we in the privacy of our own home can contact that trained professional and get the help that we need confidentially.”
Sutton says medical care providers, ministers, and friends who have concerns about soldiers or veterans they know are also calling the center for information, advice or consultation.
Sutton says the center can deal with everything for routine requests for information about psychological health and traumatic brain injury, to questions about symptoms that a caller is having, to helping a caller find appropriate health care resources. “One of the calls we’ve gotten already has been from an individual who needed some medication and was on leave and didn’t have the number back to their physician and didn’t have the number to the pharmacy so our coach was able to help that individual and make the contact and make sure they got the medication they needed to continue to enjoy their vacation.”
the center serves members, leaders, and healthcare providers of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard, Reserves and veterans of all services and their families.
The center can be contacted around the clock at 866-966-1020 and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.