A veteran-to-veteran help line established six years ago in New Jersey to provide crisis counseling and prevent suicides among the state's military service members has been expanded nationwide.
With $5 million from the military this year, the Vets4Warriors peer-to-peer counseling program is open to all members and veterans of the National Guard and military reserves.
Its national launch was announced Tuesday.
The 24-hour-a-day help line is staffed by nearly 40 specially trained veterans. It's administered by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey at the school's Piscataway campus.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg had pushed to broaden the program because of its success in New Jersey. He says it assures veterans don't need to "suffer in silence."
The toll-free hot line is 1-855-VET-TALK.