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Honor Veterans by Supporting Life and Preventing Suicide

ID:
5006

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Our goal
Improve health outcomes to high risk Veterans by providing challenge coins to support life and prevent suicide.
The Challenge

I Challenge You to 22

 

Challenge 

It is estimated that 22 Veterans die by suicide each day.  A major cause of Veteran suicide is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can sometimes cause ordinary situations to turn challenging and escalate quickly. Our Veterans need a tangible way to de-escalate for their mental health and self-care. The Challenge Coin is a solution. It provides hope and inspiration, as well as a 24/7 resource. Challenge Coins are a recognizable symbol in the military community. A Challenge Coin has been part of the military tradition since World War I as a way to symbolize unity, brotherhood, and camaraderie. Today, Challenge Coins are a way to prove membership to a branch of service/a specific mission, and to boost morale. They increase conversation and allow Veterans to share their stories. Each Challenge Coin emphasizes the impact of conversation by having the words "Tell Me Your Story, Listen To Mine. We Fought For Our Freedom, We Must Fight For Each Other."

 

 

Solution 

Expanding upon a Military tradition of support and camaraderie, we created our own Challenge Coin. These Challenge Coins are similar in style to the Challenge Coins that already mean so much to our Veterans. The Center's Challenge Coins are a way to honor Veterans, and even more importantly, provide them with the life-saving resource, HOPELINE. 

The impact of Challenge Coins can be seen in many areas. According to one Veteran, “the coin gave me the drive, compassion, and motivation to crush the 22 a day, which would have included me.” Receiving this coin served as a reminder that people do care, and that the Veteran needed to update their own self-care plan.  It is a way to provide a resource and honor those who have served for our freedoms. 

We at The Center for Suicide Awareness wanted to do more. We came up with the idea of providing Challenge Coins for every law enforcement municipality. Our idea is simple: to provide each police officer/first responder with our Challenge Coins, which has the HOPELINE resource, and to have those officers distribute them to Veterans who are struggling and in need. Receiving this Challenge Coin will allow the Veteran to become aware of the HOPELINE resource, and show that people appreciate the sacrifices Veteran's have made for our country. 

A Wisconsin police officer shared how these coins have positively impacted his community. When he encountered a Veteran, who was experiencing a PTSD episode, the officer handed the Veteran our Challenge Coin. The Veteran who received the coin experienced an immediate calming effect. It showed that someone cared enough about his story and wanted to understand, as well as provide him with the HOPELINE resource. This is just one example of how beneficial the coins can be. 

Each Challenge Coin features the HOPELINE texting number. The HOPELINE is a completely free, confidential, textline that is staffed by trained crisis counselors. Many of the texts the HOPELINE receives are from rural areas where there is a general lack of resources. Because the HOPELINE is a 24/7 resource, it is valuable for those who may not have the resources or means to seek help. Having the HOPELINE available when most outside resources are not open provides a person with immediate help. The anonymity of the HOPELINE draws texters in, and it is a culturally responsive option that can be utilized by any person. 

From the mother with tears in her eyes who couldn’t thank us enough after her suicidal daughter texted to HOPELINE, to the father who felt his kids would be better off without him as he struggled to find employment, HOPELINE has clearly saved lives and earned the eternal gratitude of families and friends.

It is clear that HOPELINE is an effective tool.  It fills a need with a method that works for today’s world.  It also covers gaps due to lack of resources by providing immediate response by trained crisis personnel.

Here's how the HOPELINE works:

  • The HOPELINE Text Line serves anyone in any type of situation, providing them access to free, 24/7 emotional support and information they need via the medium they already use and trust: text.
  • Someone texts into HOPELINE to 741741 ---anywhere, anytime, about any type of challenge or struggle.
  • A live, trained specialist receives the text and responds quickly.
  • Each person that text in is important to us and we care about what they are dealing with.
  • HOPELINE has the ability to pinpoint location via GPS if coversations require crisis intervention. In 2016 alone, 29 individuals started their attempt to end their life but reached out to the HOPELINE for help. We actively rescued and saved their lives. 
  • Without HOPELINE, those lives would have been lost to suicide.

Every $4,000 will allow us to distribute 400 coins to our Veterans. Donors have the ability to designate where the coins will be distributed. Examples could include police and fire departments, Veteran's organizations, hospitals, faith-based organizations and more. 

Long Term Impact 

Our Veterans have done so much for our country and it’s important that we continue to support them in any way that we can. By providing these coins we hope to encourage open, honest conversation. Getting the Challenge Coins in the hands of as many officers as possible will allow coins to be distributed to more Veterans.  

Challenge Coins have already been distributed by 36 police districts in Wisconsin, in addition to mental health facilities and homeless shelters. Our goal is for police and the first line of responders to get these coins in the hands of Veterans in need.  Help us Help them!

Help us honor our hometown heroes by providing Challenge Coins for our Veterans. Donate today. Every $10 provides one coin.

HOPELINE saves lives. 

To view our HOPELINE PSA, click here 

 

The Challenge Coin design is a copyright of The Center for Suicide Awareness. 

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Our milestones
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  • Zina

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  • Nina

  • Derek

  • Lona

  • Ayesha

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