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Canandaigua V.A. featured in HBO documentary

Canandaigua, N.Y. - Since 2001, more veterans have died by their own hand than in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, one veteran dies by suicide in America every 80 minutes.

The hope is to spread a message that help is available.

An H.B.O. documentary will shine a spotlight on the veterans outreach that goes on at the Canandaigua Veteran Affairs Medical Center.

The film focuses on the work of counselors at the only national veterans crisis line.

The documentary, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1" shows intense, real moments of crisis line responders helping veterans through desperate times.

The V.A. strategy for suicide prevention is ready access to high quality care so whenever a veteran is in crisis we want to get them into care as soon as possible, Caitlin Thompson, Canandaigua V.A. Deputy Director of Suicide Prevention, said.

Thompson said she hopes the film lets people know help is available.

The crisis hotline is open 24 hours a day, 364 days a year.

Thompson said the responders take about 1,000 calls a day from around the world.

Jason Edlen is one of those responders taking calls.

He went from the battlefield to the call center.

Edlen is an U.S. Army veteran.

Hes one of many who help veterans of all conflicts who struggle mentally, have thoughts of suicide or the challenges of returning to civilian life.

You just have honest conversations with them, you listen to them and you try to talk them do their problem, Edlen said.

For Edlen thats important, never leaving a man when hes down.

Edlen is now going beyond his service, helping others who served their country.

I have veterans calling from Iraq and Afghanistan, they've been in the bases I've been in, we've traveled the same roads so I can relate to them in a lot of ways, Edlen said.

Crisis hotline supervisor, Robert Hawkes says, Its a fulfilling feeling and hopefully the message is that veterans can call here, its safe to call here, and that when they call here, everything is confidential for them and that hopefully they can get the help they need.

The documentary airs on Veterans Day, Monday.

For more information, visit Veteranscrisisline.net or call 1-800 273-8255

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Washington Times