Dave Lydon, Flagler County Veterans Service Officer, received a call in his office from a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD. The caller was sitting in his car in a local church parking lot, contemplating ending his life. The caller stated that the current reporting of the coronavirus statistics was reminiscent of the body counts in the Vietnam War and was causing him to become extremely depressed.
After calling a crisis line and being transferred several times the call was eventually routed to the Flagler County Veterans Service Office and Dave answered the phone. The office is not listed as a crisis line.
At first Dave thought it might be a crank caller. However, his experience told him the caller was a man in distress. Dave had been in and around the military for over 30 years and retired from law enforcement.
Dave quickly built a rapport. The caller was satisfied that as a fellow veteran he could relate with him. In truth, Dave could relate. The events that triggered the caller’s reactions were affecting him as well.
When Dave felt the caller was more relaxed and conversant, he invited him to his office to talk. The caller was perplexed. He thought he had reached some faraway call center. Instead, he was on the phone with the local veterans service office.
The caller agreed and came into Dave’s office. Dave spent another 3 hours with him. He spoke, he laughed and he cried. Dave reminded him of all the good there was in the world and that they lived in a beautiful place. Dave told him he was a kind person with a great sense of humor and doesn’t have the right to “punch out early.” For all he knows, his mission is to stick around and make use of those characteristics to positively affect others. This resonated with him. He lit up. They shook hands and agreed to stay in touch.
Dave texted him that evening and he was doing fine. Dave left the office exhausted, but full of pride, relief and gratitude that God gave him the tools to handle that situation.
Dave Lydon is retired from the New York State Police, and resides with his wife, Sally, in Palm Coast, Flagler County, Fla. Dave currently works as the Veterans Service Officer for Flagler County. He also belongs to American Legion Flagler Post 115, VFW Post 8696, the Flagler County Veterans Advisory Council and the Flagler County Chapter of MOAA.