Law enforcement officers make critical decisions every day, some with life and death consequences. 

One decision, made with compassion, by Delaware County Sheriff's Deputy Cody Thompson Cody Thompson not only made a difference but saved the life of a veteran in need.

Earlier this year, Thompson was sent to conduct a welfare check for a veteran, living in Delaware County, who called the veteran's crisis line.

Thompson, who served in the U.S. Army from 2010 to 2016 as a combat engineer and spend time deployed to Afghanistan, took the time to ensure the man was treated properly during their encounter..

“He needed the help," Thompson said. "He just wanted to sit and talk. It felt like the right thing to do.”

On Monday, Dec. 11, Thompson was honored for his actions by Oklahoma Veterans Administration officials during a brief ceremony at the Delaware County Sheriff's office. 

Trent E. Neffendorf, chief of police for the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, and Mark E. Morgan, medical center director for the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System both attended Monday's recognition ceremony.

Both men, commended Thompson for his actions during the welfare check.

“it’s not often we get the extra effort,” Neffendorf said.

Morgan agreed.

“There is no way to do this by ourselves," Morgan said. "We are losing 20 veterans per day [to suicide] and 14 are not connected with the VA at all.”

During the brief ceremony, Morgan presented Thompson with a challenge coin as a sign of appreciation for the deputy's actions.

Challenge coins are a part of military tradition with its origins going back to the Roman Empire. At that time soldiers were rewarded for their achievements with the presentation of a coin.

Today’s modern military, and the services that support the military and veteran, carry on those traditions. Challenge coins are often awarded in recognition of exemplary service.

In all, Thompson spent a combined 15 hours helping the man, and ultimately encouraging him to seek out treatment. 

Thompson assisted the veteran to develop a treatment plan and followed up not only with the man, but also with his family. 

Delaware County Sheriff Harlan Moore said he was proud of Thompson's actions. 

"[He] demonstrated exactly what we are looking for," Thompson said. “I’ve got a good bunch of people, all have kind hearts and do a good job.”

Did You Know?

According to the most recent statistics, released in July 2017, an average of 20 veterans die each day from suicide, with only six of those 20 users of the VA services.

In 2014, veterans accounted for 18 percent of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults, while veterans constituted 8.5 percent of the U.S. population.

In 2014, approximately 65 percent of all veterans who died from suicide were aged 50 years or older.

After adjusting for differences in age, risk for suicide was 18 percent higher among male veterans when compared to U.S. civilian adult males, and 2.4 times higher among female veterans when compared to U.S. civilian adult females.

Help is available

For the veteran

The 24/7 Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) provides immediate access to mental health crisis intervention and support. Veterans call the national suicide prevention hotline number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and then “Press 1” to reach responders trained in suicide prevention and crisis intervention. VCL also includes a chat service and texting option.

Since the establishment of the VCL through May 2016 the VCL responders have answered more than 2.3 million calls, made more than 289,000 chat connections, and more than 55,000 texts. They have also dispatched emergency services to callers in immediate suicidal crisis more than 61,000 times. They have also provided more than 376,000 referrals to a VA Suicide Prevention Coordinator (SPC) thus ensuring veterans are connected to local care;

For family members

Telephone coaching for family members seeking to get their veteran into care is available through the Veterans Coaching Into Care (

The service provides a motivational “coaching” service for family and friends who see that a veteran in their life needs help.

Coaching involves helping the caller figure out how to motivate the veteran to seek services. It is free and provided by licensed clinical social workers and psychologists.

Since the inception of the service in January 2010 through November 2014, Coaching Into Care has logged 18,088 total initial and follow-up calls.