Helena Police Department launches Veteran’s Outreach Team

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter

HELENA — Mental health awareness is incredibly important, and those who need it most often do not have access to necessary resources. To address this need, the Helena Police Department has started a Veterans Outreach Program to help local veterans deal with a variety of issues.

The program is headed by Sgt. Charles Hudson and officer Kristopher Cooper, who are both well versed in the needs of veterans and how they can seek to address any issues whether it is needing mental support, an outlet to talk or connecting to resources and programs that can further help them.

“There are about 22 veterans a day that commit suicide,” Cooper said. “I feel like this kind of program is the best way to deal with things like PTSD and depression. The biggest thing is for us to get out there and let everyone know that they can always lean on us.”

Cooper spent time in the military and said he understands how tough transitioning back to civilian life can be after leaving the service, which is why he wants to help.

Through this program, five HPD officers, who are all veterans, will receive training in peer support, and will be available to any veterans who need to talk or need some kind of assistance.

“We will be getting a lot of training on how to help them and talk with them,” Cooper said. “That way, if we get a call with a veteran who is homeless or going through some mental health issues or anything else, we can get them in contact with a social worker or get them resources.”

The Veterans Outreach team is part of HPD’s Community Outreach Program, which is designed to help the department better assess and identify the needs of the community so they can better serve those they protect.

Cooper said that anyone vet who needs access to services should call the Helena Police Department at 205-663-6499 or email Hudson or him at chudson@helenapd.com or kcooper@helenapd.com.