BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Tonja Myles is behind a different kind of 3-digit hotline. It’s one that launches nationwide this summer.
“In July of this year, all states have to be 988 compliant meaning that when a person is in crisis, they don’t call 911 anymore, they can call 988,” said Tonja Myles.
The hotline is a breakthrough for people in a mental health emergency.
“Our police community, they’re already overwhelmed. They’re not counselors but now being able to send licensed professionals people out to get the help that they need is a win-win. I can’t say it enough: it’s a game-changer” said Myles.
The system is one Myles has been working on for years now as a peer counselor.
“When they asked me to testify on Capitol Hill, I was more than excited to do it, to share my story personally of crisis,” said Myles.
But her testimony wasn’t the first time making an impression on our nation’s capital. What was once a life of depression – pivoted to a life of helping others.
“I actually went from the crackhouse to the White House,” said Myles.
Tonja was recruited to be a presidential advisor after setting up a non-profit through her church. Since then, she’s never shied away from answering the call.”Being a soldier changed my life. I love being a soldier.”
She was recognized as a female veteran trailblazer. Its an honor given to just 16 women yearly across the U.S.
“There’s a museum for women vets and I’m in that museum, that’s kind of cool,” said Myles.
Now she uses her voice to make sure people know they are not alone.
“There are so many people that are suffering in silence. In our community and in our country, we need to have conversations like this and that’s why I’m so open about sharing my story” said Myles.