By Susan Svrluga
May 8, 2016
On Sunday, Col. Matt Pawlikowski, a chaplain from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, led a Mothers’ Day service at the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial near the Mall honoring women whose children are serving or have died. The ceremony closed with the pledge.
At the Mall, veterans touch a sword and pledge to reach out to military buddies if they start to have thoughts of suicide. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)A couple of years after he left the U.S. Marine Corps, Lyndon Villone kept trying to reach a close friend who had served with him in Iraq. When he didn’t hear back,Villone thought maybe it was best to give him some space.
His friend shot himself in the head.
Within a year, Villone had lost two more Marine Corps brothers to suicide.
And he was beginning to think about it himself.
This weekend, a coalition of nonprofits led a “Spartan Weekend” for hundreds of sick and injured veterans centered on a promise: They would not take their own life without reaching out to someone for help. And they would take that oath with their hands on a sword hammer-forged of steel salvaged from the remains of the World Trade Center.
By one estimate, an average of 22 veterans take their own lives each day. Some people debate that number from the Department of Veterans Affairs, said Steve Danyluk, who worked with wounded service members after returning from a tour in Iraq with the Marines, “but I think anybody that served in a combat unit can run through a list of people that they know that committed suicide.”
And everyone says the same thing when they hear about a suicide, said Danny Prince, a retired New York City firefighter who often visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to thank service members: “’I can’t believe it — I would’ve done something.’ ”
That is why Danyluk helped organize the event for the Spartan Alliance and Disabled American Veterans. “You don’t have to be suicidal to take the pledge,” he said. “It’s finding a mission: Help your buddy. It’s reconnecting, reestablishing those relationships that seem to vanish once you leave the military.”
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Linked from Stars and Stripes
This is the report you have to read if you really want to know what the claim of "22 a day" is all about and it is far more than 22. Here is the link to the VA Suicide Report. Read at least to page 15.