“Crisis Hotline, Veterans, Press 1” may be one of the most powerful documentaries ever produced and aired.
This HBO documentary is on all-hands-on-deck look at the Veteran’s Administrations Crisis hotline. Staffed by up to 100 professionals per eight-hour shift and available to veterans on a 24/7 basis, the national crisis call center is in Northern New York. This film’s Point of View focuses on the VA’s responding operators’ interaction with Veterans who may be suicidal.
Sky-rocketing PTSD rates and the corresponding increased suicides in this country’s veteran population is a compelling story by itself. But this documentary puts you alongside the responding operator as they assesses a situation, reinforce a veteran’s self-worth or discuss the consequences of their suicide and deals with a suicidal veteran in real time.
The VA’s Crisis Center call center receives 22,000 inbound calls a month and since its inception in 2007, it’s handled more than 900,000 calls from veterans in crisis or their family members. Because of the rapid redeployment tempo associated with current conflicts (it’s not uncommon for some soldiers serving four-year enlistments to deploy to combat zones more than two times and some career soldiers and Marines have seen active combat over five deployments), PTSD and its lasting effects – the inability to find lasting jobs, plus alcoholism, drug addiction and other conditions) are now recognized as a significant problem for most combat vets.
In response to the flood of PTSD patients, the VA has opened clinics in many US cities with significant veteran populations
Crisis hotline deals with Issues of patient confidentiality by only showing and filming the operator during the call. Deft camera work heightens the drama by showing the Messaging traffic between the operator and their supervisor. It’s the messaging traffic—which confirms calls to emergency service providers and in-route times that really attenuates this documentary.
The real stars of this HBO documentary are the VA’s Crisis call center operators who have the presence of mind and attention to detail to hear background sound such as the noise of a pistol’s magazine being loaded or unloaded or a veteran’s tone of voice and the seriousness of his intent to kill themselves. Watch this documentary and you’ll understand that there really are heroes among us and that some of them work for the Veterans’ Administration at a fully technology evolved call center in upstate New York
Crisis Hotline, Veterans, Press 1, is in HBO’s current line up of shows. It can also be streamed at any time from HBOGo.com. If you know of a veteran who may be in crisis, please have them call the VA’s hotline at 800-273-8255 and immediately press 1.—Jim Forbes on November 20,2015.
Disclosure: I am a veteran and have benefitted from the VA’s PTSD programs.