We Leave No One Behind Crisis Help works with police to help veterans
The National Alliance on Mental Illness says an estimated 2 million people are booked into jail each year when they should be getting mental health care.
But one local organization is working to change that particularly when it comes to veterans.
"We Leave No One Behind Crisis Help" works with Killeen PD to get veterans the help they need
"We've had veterans in panic attacks, they've been suicidal, they've been intoxicated, and anxiety attacks, it's a range of reasons," said Hope Torres.
Torres is the counseling director the nonprofit group of volunteer counselors based in Killeen.
She says police can sometimes find themselves responding to calls involving veterans who need the help of a mental health expert.
Torres said, "a lot of them are veterans themselves, they don't want to put a veteran in cuffs for any reason, and if they're able to talk them down they're going to call us. They want to help just as much as we do."
Killeen police carry cards with the hotline number, (856) 209-8838, so veterans in crisis can get the help they need any time of day or night from one of the group's four volunteers.
Torres says there are more than 25,000 veterans in Killeen alone, a ratio of 120 veterans per officer.
By stepping in, the group not only helps veterans but the entire community.
"We want to be able to relieve them of that because when we have a veteran with a crisis situation, that can take them off the road anywhere from 30 minutes to five hours and we need them responding to the crisis in the city," Torres said.
Torres says veterans and their families are welcome to call anytime, not just during a crisis situation.
And she's starting a new, method of interacting with veterans, fitness walks so she can chat with a veteran dealing with issues and work through some aggression through physical activity.
Major Jason Righteous Norwood is the director of the organization.
He says Torres helped make the group a part of the Killeen Chamber of Commerce.
And they recently went through a name change and obtained 501 (c)(3) status in June.
Major Norwood says the volunteer efforts are making a difference and this is just the beginning.
"As we grow and as we help more people, I'm just really happy to see what tomorrow could bring," he said.
Torres told us, "I would love for us to expand our reach and get with other police departments and get other volunteers."