PORTLAND, Ore. — A local nonprofit that helps people in crisis has expanded to serve the national Veterans Crisis Line.

Lines for Life will serve as the sole backup call center for the Veterans Administration Crisis Line program. And the need is great across the country.

“They get 800,000 plus calls a year on the VCL nationally,” said Lines for Life CEO Dwight Holton. “We lose 22 vets a day just to suicide. The reality is we need to stand up for our vets just like they stood up for us. The VCL and our involvement with them is a down payment on that work."

The nonprofit has already helped in the role for the past year. Now 35 counselors will take calls at any time of day from veterans in crisis.

The new work had Lines For Life double the size of its call center area. Counselors have long helped Oregonians with crisis counseling. It has also served as the crisis line service for Oregon Military.

Senator Ron Wyden helped cut the ribbon for the expansion, after leading the effort to get the Portland-based provider the federal contract.

“This is not something that we will need to test and experiment; Lines (for Life) had really shown it day-in and day-out and nobody could deserve this recognition more,” said Wyden.

Anyone in crisis can call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) and press “1” for military.