A new military chat service has been launched by two veterans who say “we’re sh*t at talking and it’s killing us.”
The former soldiers' battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) inspired them to set up a new peer to peer chat support network to help those struggling with mental health.
All Call Signs co-founders Stephen James and Dan Arnold both served with The Second Battalion, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and created All Call Signs amid concerns over high waiting times for mental health services and a growing number of veteran suicides.
In the audio clip below Forces Radio BFBS Aldershot's Natasha Reneaux caught up with the friends and first spoke to Stephen to find out about the tri-service support network.
“We’ve got 60 plus users at the moment who are all ex-military, have all been in the same shoes as the people that are calling in.
“They understand the language; they’ve been in the same places so they get it.”
The ethos and mission statement of All Call Signs is "camaraderie in the face of adversity, whether in uniform or out."
All Call Signs isn’t like a call centre. When someone clicks the Chat Now button you’re automatically connected to a volunteer via WhatsApp.
The volunteers have all served so understand what life is really like in the military.
“Once you’ve made that connection, you’ve got someone to chat to whenever you just need a pick me up…
“You can check up on each other and make sure you’re doing OK.”
However, this isn’t just a text service. The initial contact via WhatsApp can develop into a phone or video call, whatever the user feels most comfortable with.
“The idea of starting it by a text is that a lot of people may be in a work environment, they may be somewhere where they have to be discreet with what they’re doing.”
It’s not just a service you can find on WhatsApp.
All Call Signs launched their Beacon, an AI-powered geo-location search assistance app in September which is already being embraced and used by the military community they are here to help.
The aim is for people to subscribe to Beacon on Facebook Messenger so that if a vulnerable member of the military community goes missing they will be sent an alert.
“Getting boots on the ground in response to an at risk person going off the radar can literally mean the difference between life and death.
“Our hope is that Beacon will prevent a lot of the misinformation and confusion that has hindered search efforts in the past.”
All Call Signs is designed to complement and not replace what’s already available for veterans.
Dan and Stephen were increasingly becoming aware of suicides within the veteran community and felt like something more needed to be done to support the vulnerable members of their military family.
“There’s fantastic support out there with agencies like Combat Stress, The Royal British Legion and Hague Housing.
“They’re doing a fantastic job but it almost seems not to be enough.”
If you want to volunteer your time or are interested in looking after your mental health visit www.allcallsigns.org