Using Armed Forces experience and a peer-to-peer communication service, All Call Signs has saved at least 47 lives in the last year. We speak to co-founder Dan Arnold about why the service is so important.
Research suggests the true rate of veterans with mental health conditions could be as high as 10 per cent, leaving veterans’ mental health services stretched to their limits.
All Call Signs (ACS) provides a peer-to-peer communication service for veterans experiencing mental ill health as well as a Beacon which allows the public to aid suicidal veterans.
After Dan Arnold and Stephen James lost one of their closest friends to suicide, they knew there had to be change and decided to launch ACS.
“Last year our close friend Daniel took his own life as result of PTSD,” explains Dan. “We couldn’t find him on time, but it left us to sit and say there’s a disconnect, a gap in the services available that veterans and Armed Forces personnel are willing to engage with.”
With lived experience of mental health problems, Dan knew how effective a peer support network made up of veterans, for veterans could be.
“It’s very important for Forces leavers to talk with each other,” stresses Dan. “It makes them more willing to open up and engage, more willing to have a conversation.”
When a vulnerable member of the military community goes missing a Beacon is launched. The location-powered emergency response sends an alert to anyone subscribed to ACS, extending the search for a missing person to thousands of people across the country.
Members of the public are then urged to get in touch with the police or other relevant organisations if they see the veteran in need of assistance. A veteran’s loved ones are always contacted before an alert is sent.
“We are in contact with people who have said that without the service they would have taken their own life that day,” discloses Dan.
At least 47 lives have been saved using the Beacon service, but Dan credits All Call Signs for saving his life, too, he says: “My work within the organisation has given me strength and I’ve found my voice.
“I’ve never been shy but it has given me the confidence to talk about my experience, and break down barriers and stigma.”
“There was a time when I thought I was broken,” Dan continues. “But it’s OK not to be OK, and we try to reaffirm that with our experiences.”
ACS work to prevent the worst case scenario, but that includes helping veterans with a range of mental health conditions from eating disorders to adjustment disorder. The community supporting ACS is essential to the service’s success.
“We’ve created community that’s so passionate and supportive and I can’t thank those people enough,” expresses Dan. “Because it’s so emotive people want to support it.”
On multiple occasions the ACS team has been asked to assist police on civilian searches due to the skills they are equipped with as veterans. “Resources are getting cut, we are aware of that and know they are happy to utilise us,” says Dan.
The team is currently precuring their own search and rescue vehicle to better assist veterans in need and the police.
As the service continues to grow and saves more lives, Dan would urge veterans to seek help, he says: “I remember what it was like myself, I was nervous about reaching out and fearful of what I would be told.
“It shouldn’t be shied away from, embrace it and learn more about help: it will assist your family, it will benefit every part of your life.”
Services like ACS are bridging the gap between veterans and mental health services, while saving lives through peer-to-peer support. If you need someone to talk to visit www.allcallsigns.org
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