A documentary about the experience of staffing a national hotline for troubled military veterans picked up an Academy Award on Sunday, highlighting recent efforts to prevent suicide among former troops.
HBO’s “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” which won the Oscar for best short documentary, captures private moments in which responders at the Department of Veterans Affairs 24-hour call center react to complex calls and discuss the emotional challenges of their work.
During her acceptance speech, director Ellen Goosenberg Kent thanked “the people at the crisis line who care for veterans as deeply as if their own lives depend on it.”
Similarly, a teary-eyed Dana Perry, the film’s producer, used her opportunity on the Oscar Thank You Cam to thank “everybody at the hotline — the most amazing, dedicated responders and staff, who are reaching out a hand to veterans across the land.”
Perry also produced the 2009 HBO documentary “Boy Interrupted,” a film about her bipolar son, who committed suicide at the age of 15.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said in a statement on Monday that he was pleased with the Oscar win for “Crisis Hotline.”
“We are hopeful that this documentary will help raise awareness of this important issue with the American public,” McDonald said. “Our Veterans in crisis need to know that there is hope and asking for help makes them stronger.”
Veterans Affairs officials said they had trouble coordinating the film because of privacy concerns, but acting director of hotline operations Julianne Mullane said the project was important and worth the effort, according to a USA Today article last week.
“I just think it’s so great that it’s getting all this attention and that it’s going to help people call in,” Mullane told the paper.