TAMPA, Fla. - When the phone rings at the Crisis Center in Tampa, and there is a veteran on the line, Jamie McPherson is there to help.
Jamie is a Veterans Peer Specialist, and while he serves as a lifeline for anyone in the community who is struggling, he specializes in Veterans affairs. Jamie spent four years in the United States Marines, which makes him able to relate to the issues specific to men and women in the armed forces.
“We both went to boot camp and we both have shared experiences that someone that's not been in the military can't understand. You cannot explain those experiences to someone else,” said Jamie.
It wasn’t long ago that Jamie needed help of his own. A few years ago, he was out of work and struggling financially. That’s when he reached out to the Crisis Center. They helped him get back on his feet and even offered him a job operating the Florida Veteran Support Line.
Jamie understands that some veterans are reluctant to ask for help, but hopes his story gives others the courage to come forward.
“There's this stigma, especially among the older era veterans. They just don't want to reach out for help. Many veterans feel that if they ask for help there's something wrong with them,” said Jamie.
Jamie wants other veterans to know that regardless their age or circumstance, the Crisis Center is there to be a sounding board for their problems.
“There is no judgment here. We don't care what you've done in your past; we don't care what struggles you're dealing with; we're not here to judge, we're here to help,” said Jamie.
He hopes others veterans will heed his advice and allow the Crisis Center to be their starting point for help, hope, and healing.
**If you are a veteran, or know of a veteran who might need assistance, call 2-1-1 or the Florida Veteran Support Line directly at 1-844-MY-FL-VET.