July 28, 2008 in Nation/World

22,000 veterans called suicide line


More than 22,000 veterans have sought help from a suicide hot line in its first year, and 1,221 suicides have been averted, the government says.

The VA teamed up with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to launch the hot line last July after years of criticism that the VA wasn’t doing enough to help wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In April, two veterans groups sued the VA, citing long delays for processing applications and other problems in treatment for veterans at risk for suicide. The department has spent $2.9 million on the hot line thus far.

The hot line receives up to 250 calls per day – double the average number calling when it began. Janet Kemp, national suicide prevention coordinator for the Veterans Affairs Department, said callers are divided evenly between veterans from the Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars.


Thousands protest immigrant raid

About a thousand protesters descended on a small town in northeastern Iowa on Sunday, decrying the raid of a meatpacking plant that arrested nearly 400 residents and calling for a change in federal immigration policies.

Postville, a town with about 2,200 residents, was pushed to the forefront of a national debate when federal immigration officials raided Agriprocessors – the nation’s biggest kosher meatpacking plant – in May in the largest raid of its kind in the United States. Most of those arrested were Guatemalan and Mexican nationals who lived in the area.

Sunday’s protesters – many arriving by bus from the Twin Cities and Chicago – circled the streets of Postville on a route about a mile long. Some clutched banners and signs such as one that read: “United for immigrant and worker rights.”

The rally also drew about 75 anti-immigration protesters.


Hurricane flooding spurs evacuations

About 300 people were evacuated from homes, campgrounds and a recreational vehicle park Sunday after flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Dolly. Two people were reported missing in the water.

Meteorologists said more than 6 inches of rain fell in the mountainous area, and flash flood watches were in effect for central and eastern New Mexico.

The Rio Ruidoso went over its banks about midnight, said Tom Schafer, Ruidoso’s emergency management coordinator.

Ruidoso police took reports of the two being swept away in separate incidents after apparently losing their footing near the river, Schafer said.

State officials estimated more than 60 homes have been damaged.

From wire reports

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email