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Vets Get ‘Private Ryan’ Hotline

July 26, 1998 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ The Department of Veterans Affairs has set up a national hotline for veterans or their family members traumatized by the combat scenes in the movie ``Saving Private Ryan.″

The movie opens in theaters this weekend.

The hotline _ at 1-800-827-1000 _ will be offered through midnight Pacific Daylight Time on Sunday. Mental health workers will be available to help movie viewers cope with grief or post-traumatic stress disorder, said Joel Preston Smith of the Portland VA Medical Center.

Deborah Richter, a therapist and head of the Portland Vet Center, a counseling center for military veterans who have experienced combat, said war movies often provoke intense emotions in such veterans.

``I think it’s going to hit a lot of people hard,″ Richter said. ``John Wayne made a lot of movies examining that World War II experience but not as graphically as I understand this one will be. It’s a much different perspective on the pain, the suffering and the actual killings.

``It’s the ultimate trigger for post-traumatic experiences,″ she said.

Richter said the counseling hotline will be an ideal forum to find help.

It’s possible that the national hot line will be extended beyond Sunday night, Smith said. ``If not, we will be extending a similar service on a local level,″ he said.