Army veteran turned pastor offers 24/7 local veteran crisis line

Outside the Gates: Steven McReynolds is in the process of trying to establish a nonprofit to provide vets with counseling services
Army veteran turned pastor offers 24/7 local veteran crisis line
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 5:19 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - When Steven McReynolds exited the U.S. Army in 1992 after a 12-year military career, he experienced the same struggles many servicemembers face while transitioning out of active duty.

“It almost cost me my marriage at one time, so I found help,” McReynolds said.

After admitting he needed help, McReynolds sought out counseling that he says ultimately saved his marriage. It was the kind of help he now wants to give back to other veterans struggling to engage in life after service.

“You’re trained to fight the battles, you’re trained to do all these other things — but you’re not trained how to turn it off,” McReynolds said. “You can’t just turn that off, it’s with you forever.”

Currently, McReynolds is trying to form a nonprofit called the Alaska Veterans Association. While it’s still in the process of being established, the organization would be focused on providing counseling services for veterans struggling with any kind of crisis, whether it be mental health, drug or alcohol addiction, or family issues.

McReynolds said it’s important that Alaska has its own 24/7 veteran crisis line to access services unique to the state.

“The darkness we have up here, the cabin fever we deal with, all this stuff up here that Alaskans deal with, the Lower 48 does not understand and won’t understand,” McReynolds said. “Just like nobody understands what a veteran has gone through except for another veteran.”

McReynolds is hopeful the nonprofit will be formed sometime in October, but until that happens a toll-free number for the crisis line cannot be established.

That hasn’t stopped him, however, from posting his own cell phone number on the Facebook page created in anticipation.

“People need help now, they’ve needed help all this time,” McReynolds said. “If you get somebody struggling and they don’t want to wait until October to get help — they want help now, so this is a way to get it out there.”

Editors note: Alaska Veterans Association is not currently operating as a 501(c)3 nonprofit. If you are a veteran experiencing a crisis, you can speak to certified professionals by calling the national Veterans Crisis Line by dialing 988 and pressing “1″.