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Rutgers University News Release

PISCATAWAY, N.J., Nov. 22, 2013 -- Vets4Warriors, a Rutgers University-based 24/7 nationwide peer-to-peer support line for servicemen and women is expanding its services to all active duty military service members and their families, wherever they are located.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense Suicide Prevention Office and operated by Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, Vets4Warriors launched in December 2011 and, until now, was serving members of the National Guard and all branches of the military reserves. The program provides peer-to-peer support, referrals as appropriate, resilience case management and outreach services to help overcome an individual's or a family's daily challenges.

Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jessica L. Wright, who visited the Vets4Warriors call center here Nov. 20, said the expansion reflects the demonstrated value of Vets4Warriors.

"The peer support offered by Vets4Warriors is a great benefit to the total force," Wright said. "I'm impressed with the peer counselors' commitment, and as veterans themselves, they understand and can really connect with callers."

Since its inception, the Vets4Warriors support line (toll-free 1-855-838-8255) has received more than 41,000 calls and conducted nearly 1,900 live online chats. The support line is staffed with 30 peers who are veterans representing all branches of service and family members.

All calls to Vets4Warriors are confidential -- callers can remain anonymous by request --- and the counselors often maintain regular contact with a service member for weeks or months, or until a particular matter is resolved.

The Vets4Warriors peer counselors help increase service members' life skills, assist in improving their relationships at home or at work and address stress management, adjustment issues, grief and loss, legal and financial issues or other problems. The counselors also reach out proactively to at-risk service members.

Although Vets4Warriors is not a crisis line, its peer counselors are certified to respond to suicidal callers and will "warm transfer" crisis calls to the Military Crisis Line.

"It is indeed a unique privilege to be in a position to help the men and women who defend our country in the ways in which our peer counselors do," said Christopher Kosseff, president and CEO of University Behavioral Health Care. "We greatly appreciate the confidence the Department of Defense has in our abilities."

As part of the new agreement with the Department of Defense covering the expansion, Vets4Warriors, in addition to Live Chat, will add more capability and outreach through social media.