Telephone town hall meeting planned to help veterans during coronavirus crisis

Posted at 7:28 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 07:38:31-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Another vulnerable population has been left to navigate under a new world of isolation: veterans.

Before the coronavirus outbreak began, according to the Veterans Affairs Office, 20 veterans took their own lives every minute due to mental health issues and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

"I've had PTSD and just the paranoia, the fear, it's kind of our fight or flight on overdrive," said Dominique Mundt, a Pueblo Veteran."

Since March 19, regional veterans benefits administration offices have been closed. Walk-ins, counseling, and other in-person services have been canceled.

"I think for veterans, the main issue is a lack of purpose," Mundt said. "Imagine being in this huge organization, maybe being a leader, and then having to come and get out of the military and having to start all over. When we are stuck at home we don't have that purpose."

Since March, the American Legion says phone calls to the veterans crisis line have gone up 12%.

"They're doing a lot of tele-mental health. Those appointments are at an all-time high," said Under Secretary for the Veterans Benefits Administration Dr. Paul Lawrence. "Also, everyone's advising everybody to do a buddy check."

On Tuesday, a different phone line will be available for veterans. Lawrence says for one hour, veterans in Colorado can participate in a town hall meeting to get their concerns and questions answered. This conversation will be held over the phone, and will feature experts and other officials who can help.

"I'm concentrating the entire resources of the VBA on the 370,000 veterans in Colorado. Quite frankly we have folks standing by who can solve their problems."

To participate in the town hall, call 1-844-227-7557 beginning at 3 p.m. Lawrence says they are still processing claims and paying benefits. Veterans can continue to get information about benefits or file a claim, by clicking here.