SAVING SOLDIERS' LIVES,
ONE PHONE CALL AT A TIME
The toll-free hotline 1-866-VETS-NJ-4, operating under the aegis of UBHC, the University’s behavioral health network, starred in a host of media situations because of its uniquely personal peer-to-peer credo.
On the telephone, the approach is straightforward, “Not CPR but QPR, Question, Persuade and Refer. It’s okay to have a mental health issue even if you are a big strong guy.” Immediate support, clinical assessment and access to a comprehensive mental health provider network are available. Callers have even phoned home from Iraq. Launched on April 13, 2005, the line has responded 4,700 times. And it really took off in 2007 after the tearful experience of helpline staffer Richard Dvorin, 65—father of Army 2nd Lt. Seth Dvorin, 24, killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq—made The Star Ledger and The Los Angeles Times and found its way into the blog-o-sphere. Funding from the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has jumped from $100,000 to $300,000, according to Castellano.
UBHC has a long, successful history when it comes to using the telephone as a lifeline for troubled individuals. As their Web site explains, “In a world dominated by automated call systems with endless, confusing options, the Access Center at UBHC simplifies life.” Since 1955, one number, currently 1-800-969-5300, provides personal assistance every day and every night to a range of statewide behavioral health services. Trained, multilingual professional clinicians and admitting specialists respond to ringing phones 1,000 times a day, and can take care of a broad range of situations from just answering a call, figuring out an insurance issue, or doing complex triage for someone in dire need.