Psychological help is a phone call away

MADISON, Wis. -- If you are a service member or veteran in emotional distress, you have several easily accessible routes to mental health services. Anyone, including non-service members, can be connected immediately, (four minutes when last checked), with a mental health professional by calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-Talk, (8255) or go to SuicideOutreach.org. This professional will help find a local mental health provider for you to connect with. Following the prompt for "veteran" connects you with the VA system, but that is optional.

At the Madison VA Hospital, any service member can walk in and usually be seen the same day- if you tell them you are having a mental health crisis. If you are a veteran this will hook you in with intensive follow-up care.

Veterans with at least 6 months served in theater in or near a battle zone can also walk in to one of the four WI Vet Centers for free counseling services by licensed mental health professionals who are almost all also veterans themselves. Compared with the VA, there is a higher level of confidentiality at a Vet Center if your commander finding out is a concern. The Madison Vet Center is located at 706 Williamson St, 608-264-5342. Outside Madison, find the closest Vet Center by searching "Vet Centers".

The Army National Guard has a Director of Psychological Health, (DPH), Bob Evans, (608-242-3047). The Air National Guard has two DPH's: Madison and Volk Field, Ellen Magee, (608-245-4310) and Milwaukee, Robb Simcock, (414-944-8256). DPH's are licensed professionals who can manage a mental health crisis, assess your needs and connect you or a family member with community providers for on-going counseling. Your contact with a DPH is strictly confidential unless you or someone else is in immediate danger. They all carry cell phones in case of emergency. Every state has DPH's.

Additionally, there are State Suicide Prevention Coordinators on call if you are in crisis. The WI Suicide Prevention Coordinator position is in transition but the number is (608-242-3428).

Military One Source, (1-800-342-9647), offers support 24 hours a day, they can refer for counseling and offer up to 12 free sessions. However, they do not handle serious mental health crises. Most often they provide marriage counseling.

Service members, encourage your wingmen and battle buddies that help is just a phone call away!
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