Lines for Life named backup for national Veterans Crisis Line, h - KPTV - FOX 12

Lines for Life named backup for national Veterans Crisis Line, hiring 26 people

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Big changes are coming to a Portland-based non-profit focused on helping veterans and others reaching out in need.

Lines for Life, which focuses on preventing suicide and substance abuse, was just selected to be the sole backup center for the national Veterans Crisis Line.

The selection is both a big honor and great responsibility, and the local crisis center will be doubling in size to meet the demand.

“This is going to require us to hire about 26 new staff in a very short period of time,” David Westbrook, Lines for Life COO, explained.

Westbrook noted that the group is looking for applicants with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a field like social work, mental health, crisis counseling or psychology. The new staffers need to be hired by September 1 to complete two weeks of training before answering their first potential crisis call.

“First of all, they need to be compassionate, kind and really good listeners,” Westbrook said. “Then, our preference would be that they be a veteran or a veteran’s advocate, that’s who we’re going to hire first.”

Tom Milligan knows first-hand how important this service is. Milligan was a Vietnam veteran himself who spent 20 years flying jets as a fighter pilot.

Now, he spends his time in the Lines for Life crisis center, literally answering the call when a fellow veteran needs help.

“Going to war or any kind of conflict is going to touch you and move you, and affects everybody in a different way,” Milligan told FOX 12. “Speaking with the veterans on the lines, from my perspective, I can understand where they’re coming from and it’s so important – I can hear it in their voice that they know we understand.”

Last year, Lines for Life answered 74,000 calls. Sometimes people call needing referrals for services or help with medications, but often they’re calling in the middle of a crisis on the verge of suicide.

With this new partnership, they expect to pick up another 1,200 calls each and every month.

“They need somebody to just listen and say okay let’s talk about it,” Milligan explained.

For more information on the expansion, visit

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