COLORADO SPRINGS — 988 is the shortened National Suicide and Crisis Hotline.

The hotline offers veterans and their loved ones an option to be directly assisted. They can press one on the dial pad to connect with the Veterans Crisis Line.

“When you press one, you’re guaranteed to get one or somebody that’s been trained specifically in that area,” said Bev Marquez, CEO of Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners, RMCP. 

Rodger Johnson, Program Manager of Veteran Suicide Prevention Pilot Program, said the support for veterans’ mental health is huge.

“The biggest thing is just the veterans that have served the country, whether it be Vietnam era or current post 9-11 era,” said Johnson. “We’re all dealing with something and so to have mental health be recognized on a national level is huge and very paramount and important, especially for those veterans who need that help and those resources.”

Mental Health Colorado is a state organization that was created in 1953.

“We’ve been working here in Colorado since 1953 to promote mental wellbeing, increase access to housing, health care supports and services and discrimination,” said Vincent Atchity, President Mental Health Colorado.

Calls to 988 will go directly to the local Lifeline Colorado center, RMCP. Maquez said they hold specific trainings for call specialists each month. 

“There are specific trainings that we need to offer every month,” said Marquez. “Colorado is unique in that we have training that we need to do for and get to do for frontier communities and farmers and ranchers and veterans and athletes.”

Call specialists will be trained to specifically take calls from veterans and their family members.

“Having people who have gone through training and can learn to understand and be empathetic and listen and encourage,” said Johnson. “That’s just going to be huge for the veteran community to allow them to really express and share what it is that they’re dealing with.”

988 provides direct support for veterans and their loved ones.

“It’s great to put it out there now in an accessible way so that veterans are aware that there’s ready help available, that it’s easy to remember,” said Atchity.

The original number 1-800-273-8255 is still available and veterans can use the chat function at VeteransCrisisLine.