A large group of area veterans entered into a new war on Sunday. A war on suicide.
A standing room only gathering at the Eisenhower Presidential Library kicked off a series of planned events by the Kansas Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter 21-1 to raise awareness around the staggering number of veterans who commit suicide everyday. The Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum and the veteran’s group have joined forces as allies in support of “Operation Veterans Suicide Outreach”.
Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum Interim Director Tim Rives welcomed the group, and spoke in support of their mission.
Chapter commander Patrick “Lucky” Lynch spoke at the event, as did chapter state representative Lynne “Spirit” Hanson, and chapter member Scott “Scooter” Lang.
Lynch read off some disturbing facts, attributing them to the Department of Veterans Affairs:
- 20 veterans die everyday via suicide. Only 6 of the 20 were seeking help.
- In 2010, 20.2 percent of all adult suicides were veterans, despite veterans making up only 9.7 percent of all adults.
Lynch said that the leading cause of veteran’s suicides is not Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, or anxiety. “It’s depression,” he said.
The goal of the effort is simple. To bring awareness to the issue and to get help for any veteran who might have depression or symptoms of depression.
The event on Sunday concluded with the majority in attendance dropping to the floor to do pushups. The pushups are part of a nationwide challenge of doing 22 pushups a day, for 22 days, to bring awareness. They went a pushup extra on Sunday, though. Each did 23 pushups, to signify the 22 veterans lost each day to suicide, plus an extra pushup for America.
Organizers made it clear that the event, and effort, is “non-political”. It’s “American”, with no sub class labels or agendas associated with it.
The group is planning more outreach events. Events are scheduled for April 22, July 22, Sept. 22, Oct. 22, and Dec. 22 at varying locations.
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