Courage to Call: Connecting Veterans to Essential Services

When veterans dial the Courage to Call support line, they get more than help with essential services. They get someone on the other end of the phone who understands the unique needs of those in the military.


Courage to Call is a peer-to-peer support program. That means it’s run by veterans, for veterans. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and offers services to active and former military members, their families and loved ones.

“San Diego is one of the counties with the highest number of veterans and active duty personnel in the nation,” said Alfredo Aguirre, director of Behavioral Health Services for the County Health and Human Services Agency. “The Courage to Call program honors our veterans for their service to our country and gives our returning men and women access to services around the clock.”

When people call the Courage to Call peer support line, they are connected to veterans who understand the rigors of military life and have made the transition to civilian life. These veterans have been trained to provide information and referrals to address the callers’ individual needs. The most requested resources are: housing/shelter, legal assistance, employment/public assistance, individual/family support service, and other basic needs such as food and transportation.

“Veterans, active duty military and their families face unique challenges that civilians can never fully understand,” said Barbara Padilla, program manager for Courage to Call. “This population is at greater risk for mental health problems, drug and alcohol abuse and family stresses.”

Courage to Call was established in October 2009.  Last fiscal year, the service helped more than 11,500 callers in San Diego County.  

Courage to Call is funded by the County and supported by 2-1-1 San Diego, an organization that provides phone and online information to connect people with community and disaster services. Other partners include Mental Health Systems, Inc., Veterans Village of San Diego and Mental Health America of San Diego County.

To learn more about Courage to Call or to access services, dial 2-1-1. All calls are confidential.

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact