How to Request a Welfare Check for a Battle Buddy (TL;DR below)
Team, Monday is going to be hard. It's Memorial Day and our Facebook feeds will be full of pictures and tributes to those we've lost to combat and to suicide. A lot of us will seriously consider suicide this weekend.
Please conduct your buddy checks this weekend, and nag the crap out of the people you love. Ask directly: "are you thinking of suicide right now?" - this doesn't glorify suicide or give anyone ideas, but it does get straight to the point, and this weekend especially candor is important.
If you learn that your Battle Buddy is in trouble, here's two ways to get help:
(1) Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or send a text to 838255. You can text the crisis line while you are on the phone. **Ask you buddy where they are located, who is with them, and whether or not they have a weapon.** Pass this info on to the crisis line; they will send emergency services.
(2) Request a Health and Welfare Check. Let's say your buddy is not in imminent danger of hurting themselves, but you still don't feel easy about your conversation. We can request that the local PD or sheriff conduct a welfare check to make sure they are okay. To do this:
(a) contact the local PD or sheriff NON-emergency line,
(b) let the dispatch know that you are requesting a welfare check for a Veteran with PTSD,
(c) provide your info and your Battle's name, address, and phone number,
(d) if your buddy has a weapon, let them know.
I have called in many health and welfare checks over the years, as a mental health professional and as a friend. My experience has been this: uniformed officers went to the home and let the Veteran know that a friend was worried about them. The officers get eyes on the Veteran and ask how they can help. Most of the time, the Veteran gets it and it's a non-issue. Sometimes, they get pissed that I sent the cops. Either way, they are breathing.
I know that no one wants to piss off their buddy, but no one wants another dead buddy either - so choose your battles. The single most loving thing anyone ever did for me personally was stage an all-out intervention; it saved my life.
TL;DR - Buddy in danger? Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or send a text to 838255 while on the phone with them to get emergency services dispatched. Want a welfare check? Call the NON-emergency line for the PD or sheriff and ask for one.
IF YOU ARE THINKING OF SUICIDE - stop everything and get help right now. Call a friend, a relative, a neighbor, or the Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1. We have to stick together right now. -Virginia