VA police officer saves stranger's life
BEDFORD, Massachusetts--Army Veteran Anthony Harris, a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) police officer at VA Bedford Healthcare System here, is credited with saving the life of a stranger in May.
Officer Harris, who served in the Army National Guard as a military policeman from 2005 to 2010, was headed home on 495 North when he noticed a man with one leg over the side of the pedestrian bridge on an overpass.
“I didn’t really believe what I was seeing, but I knew I had to spin back around and sure enough, he was still on the bridge half-way over,” Harris said.
Harris pulled onto the median and attempted contact, hoping to pull the man’s attention away from jumping.
“I said, ‘Let’s talk.’”
“He just looked at me and stood there,” Harris said. “He ended up nodding his head and jumped down, agreeing to talk to me.”
The VA police officer, who joined VA Bedford in December 2019, believes his own military service, reinforced by training with VA, made him well equipped to help people. He kept the man talking until first responders arrived to arrived to connect him to help and support.
“When someone needs help, you help them,” he said. “Whether on duty or off duty, we serve Veterans, but I think it reinforces that we serve the community as a whole.”
Harris said it’s common for life’s challenges to build up and lead to intense feelings. His advice for those who see someone suffering?
“Reach out. Engage in a conversation, see where they’re at. Don’t be scared to ask the question. No one needs to go through hard stuff alone, but it can be hard to reach out and ask for help, so you show you care, and they matter.”
If you’re a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with VA. Many of them are Veterans themselves. This free support is confidential and available every day, 24/7, and serves all Veterans, all service members—including National Guard and Reserve—and their family members and friends.
Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text 838255, or chat online. No matter what you’re experiencing, there is support for getting your life back on track.