About once every hour, a veteran commits suicide.
It’s a massive problem for the Veterans Administration, so in 2007, they set up a suicide hotline with 60 dedicated lines and five people manning the phones.
Today, there are 52 operators fielding about 1,000 calls per day. But that’s still not enough.
It wasn’t enough when Air Force officer Ted Koran needed help.
Tampa Bay’s WFTS reports that when Koran’s wife died of cancer six months ago, he fell into a deep depression. He called the VA’s suicide hotline for help, but instead he was put on hold and received the runaround. Had it not been for the rescue animals he and his wife cared for, he might have hung up and taken his life.
“My wife and I saved them, and they saved me,” Tom Koran said.
He said the 60 rescue animals he cares for are the only reason he’s here today.
Late Saturday night, he had an emotional breakdown.
“I was missing my wife,” he said.
Koran’s wife Karen died of cancer six months ago and he was so depressed he considered ending it all.
“I went to the only place that I knew and that I had available to me, the VA,” Koran said.
The U.S. Air Force veteran first called the James Haley VA Center in Tampa, where a recording gave him the 800 number to the hotline.
Koran said he was placed on hold for 10 minutes.
“I had to sit there patiently, in emotional distress, in tears, wanting to give up, desperately needing someone to talk to,” Koran said.
Koran said he hung up and redialed the number two more times.
“They had me on the [verge] of saying to hell with it,” he said.
Koran said when he actually reached a counselor, she did very little to comfort him.
Image Credit: ABC Action News