Veterans event highlights escalating national suicide rates

Veterans event highlights escalating national suicide rates

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Another crisis the Trump administration and support organizations are trying to fight are veteran suicide rates.

Twenty veterans die by suicide daily and 20 percent of all suicides nationally are now vets. The local Purple Heart and the VFW host an education luncheon to showcase this growing problem.

The event features speakers from the non-profit organization Stop Soldier Suicide.

This is a network that helps curb the epidemic rate of military suicide through a range of solutions.

Medal of Honor recipient Joe Marm says it's important to stay connected, whether it's to veterans support groups or a higher power.

"Stay close to your God. It's important, I think, to be close. They say there's no atheists in foxholes, and I truly believe that, having been in combat for all the months and time I was there," Marm said. "If a civilian sees a veteran that's depressed or in need of some help, they should reach out -- individually if they can, or call one of the veteran organizations that would go out and help them."

The group also leads with awareness and outreach campaigns to change the stigma around mental healthcare treatment.

"20 to 22 people die a day, they commit suicide, and one is too many, but to have that many every day nationwide is just unbelievable. It's important for us to help," Rep. John Frullo said. 

"It has to be on the same level as whether we're talking about colon cancer, breast cancer, or high blood pressure. The more we lessen the stigma, the more people will be willing to come out and express the need that they have," veterans advocate Shawn Jones said. 

The proceeds from the luncheon and Friday's fundraiser are going toward building a Medal of Honor statue at the Vietnam War Memorial near 84th and Memphis.

The Monument of Courage would commemorate 2nd Lt. George O'Brien, Texas Tech's only Medal of Honor recipient.

It would also memorialize Purple Heart honorees.

If you or a veteran you know may be struggling with suicide or depression, please don't be afraid to get help.

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