ARMY veterans who set up a support network for soldiers feeling suicidal or struggling with civilian life have been ‘blown away’ by the public’s response.
Friends Daniel Arnold and Stephen James founded All Call Signs less than a month ago as a ‘one-stop shop’ for veterans and serving military personnel in crisis.
The pair came up with the idea after both overcoming their own battles with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicidal thoughts after leaving the army.
And in just a few weeks, the duo’s network has helped 150 of their comrades in need – and has been backed by thousands more on social media.
The organisation has grown so rapidly that dad-of-one Daniel, of Waterlooville, has quit his job at Catherine House in Portsmouth to work full-time for his support site.
The Afghanistan veteran, who was a former Lance Corporal in the Second Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (2PWRR) alongside Stephen, said: ‘This is massively growing beyond any expectation we ever had for it.
‘This is so humbling for us. It’s been so overwhelming. Everyone has just got on board and been so positive about it.’
All Call Signs was designed by web guru Stephen and uses social networking platform WhatsApp to connect people with a team of volunteers who can offer support and guidance to those in crisis.
The website also promotes many other charities and support links that service personnel in need can be directed to.
Following the boom in support, Daniel and Stephen have since set up a new missing persons service for military personnel believed to be at risk.
Known as the beacon, it has the backing of more than 400 subscribers and is something the team is now looking to expand as part of their service.
Daniel added: ‘We’re still so surprised at how things have taken off.
‘Never in a million years could we have imagined we would be getting this level of support from the military community and from the wider community too.’
News of the project’s latest expansion comes as the globe marks World Suicide Prevention Day, a event to raise awareness of mental health issues.
Daniel and Stephen both hope the network will help prevent veterans from taking their own lives, by having someone they can talk to anonymously.
Daniel said: ‘Today is a massively poignant day for us. We just want to be there to help others in need.’
For details on the All Call Signs, see allcallsigns.org or search ‘All Call Signs’ on Facebook.
Other support sites for military veterans and their families include:
Armed forces charity SSAFA which has bases across the Portsmouth area: https://www.ssafa.org.uk/help-you/veterans
Veterans' Mental Health Transition, Intervention sand Liason Service which is available across Hampshire: http://www.awp.nhs.uk/services/specialist/veterans/
Riverside which assists veterans facing poverty and homelessness: https://www.riverside.org.uk/care-and-support/veterans/veterans-supported-housing/
And the Portsmouth-based Veterans Outreach Support which offers links to a number of key military support charities: https://www.riverside.org.uk/care-and-support/veterans/veterans-supported-housing/https://www.riverside.org.uk/care-and-support/veterans/veterans-supported-housing/